Women in every part of the world are agitating for recognition, respect, change and equal rights. They want their voices to be heard. They also want to be given equal opportunities in all walks of life, just like their male counterparts.
For a long time, women have been discriminated against, directly and indirectly. They have been denied many entitlements in the name of culture, religion and society. Some cultures treat women as if they are invisible, and then there are those that treat women as tools to be used by men. We also have the cases of some religions that isolate women and prevent them from partaking in religious activities because their doctrines instil that women are unclean beings.
Today, a great number of women all over the world have made it clear that they are tired of assuming the second place. They have shown the world that they no longer want to remain invisible. They have taken up their rightful places in the world. And they no longer wanted to be treated as tools, but as humans. These women are done with being branded misfits, because they know they are capable of performing several roles in society. Today’s woman wants to be who she desired to be, irrespective of what the society, religion or culture thinks.
But women’s “liberation” movements haven’t been much fruitful because there are still so many women who are yet to come out of their shells. These are the ones who have been broken by the society. These ones will find it difficult to heal because the damages done to them have eaten so deep into their very essence. It will take time and lots of hard work for these damages to be reversed; if at all it will be possible.
In the world today, there are still so many women that need to be helped.
This set of women have been brainwashed into believing they are incapable of achieving anything substantial because they lack the ability to think clearly and act logically. Derogatory statements such as, “Women don’t have brain/sense” have caused much more damage than you could tell. What is more, this statement is made by both men and women, and they believed it to be true. This fallacy has cost many women their self-worth because they thought that men are the only ones that think things through. The end result of this is that a lot of women depend on men to make decisions for them, even if the decisions were disadvantageous to them (the women).
Some women have been indoctrinated into believing that they lack physical strength to carry out certain kinds of work. Because of this, they shy away from jobs, which they assumed were carved out for men alone. Today, women are uncomfortable with going into engineering because they see it as a man’s profession. They run away from medicine because it is “too stressful” and “women can’t stand stress”. They don’t own mega businesses because they will stress themselves with travels, board meetings, and all. So, all women think about are running petty businesses and going into professions that are “less stressful” but pay close to nothing.
Women have been taught that their major functions in this world are to get married, have babies, nurture their children, take care of their husbands and their husbands’ homes, and then help the men in their lives to make it here on earth and in the life after. Yes, most women believe they have no life of their own; they see themselves as existing for the sole aim of making their husbands and children succeed. Some were even made to believe that in the life after, they are still tools used to keep men happy. In other words, their “slavery” lasts for eternity because they are women. This sort of women see themselves through the mirrors of the men in their lives.
By the way, do you still remember that Nigerian remarks that insinuates that “a woman’s certificate ends in the kitchen”? Well, that short statement has done more harm than you could tell. Desist from using it.
The outcome of all these can be seen in the lives of many women today.
Many women don’t think highly of themselves. They have accepted the second place in the world. They don’t want to battle or drag anything with men. In fact, any woman that challenges even a junior male colleague or a younger male neighbour will be chided and reminded that, “He’s a man” and “You’re a woman”. This is just a way of telling her to shut up and swallow whatever that was dished out to her by anybody from the opposite sex. If she insists on being herself and staying expressive, she will be branded “vile”, “uncouth”, “irresponsible”, “non-wife material”, “ill-mannered”, and so on and so forth.
The danger of women thinking lowly of themselves is that they transfer the low self-worth mentality to the younger generations. They restrict their daughters from going after the careers and hobbies they love without any good reason except that they are girls. They train their daughters to accept the second place, or worse become invisible. They train their daughters to serve men irrespective of their age and status, and to accept whatever the male folk did to them because “they are men and they are like that” and “women must learn to endure”. In fact, women with low self-worth pass on the baton of servitude and inferiority complex to their daughters, who will in turn pass it down to their own daughters. And so the story continues.
To be honest, parading the streets in groups, holding and displaying placards, chanting anthems about equality and equity, and attacking any man or woman that questions the rationale, won’t really solve the problems facing womanhood today (though it can give women temporary morale). If it would have done so, by now we won’t have laws and cultural practices that unfavoured women. Yes, a lot of laws in Nigeria don’t favour women but so many people don’t know that. However, these laws are still there because the women that will amend them haven’t shown up yet. So, restoring the dignity of womanhood in Nigeria isn’t about women declaring feminism in real life and in the social media and attacking every man that crosses their path. That is not the right way to restore women’s lost glory.
How Women Dignity Can Truly Be Restored
If you want to build a house that will last for a very long time, you start by building a very strong foundation. If this stage isn’t well done, then the house is at risk of imminent collapse. The house owner will struggle day in day out to keep it standing by patching up cracks and all. This is just the same thing with restoring women’s dignity in the society – starting from foundation.
The only way to restore the dignity of women is by bringing up our girls right. From the moment a girl-child is born, the parents should see her as a human being, capable of achieving anything she sets her heart on. They shouldn’t restrict her from going after her dreams or make her look down on herself. She needs to learn to be bold, intentional and assertive. She should be taught to respect others, but never to place herself below them. She should be taught that she has roles to play in the world but that her gender doesn’t restrict her from doing more than she ought to. Let the girl-child see herself as human first, before assuming the role of a woman.
This is not to say that only the girl-child should be paid attention to. As you train your daughters to find their places in the world, train your sons to find theirs too. Don’t share tasks for your children based on their genders; give them a chance to choose for themselves. Allow the children to grow up as humans, not as different genders. When they grow up with this mindset, they will bring forth a society that will be ready and willing to give women their rightful positions.
Trust me, until the universe raises humans who do not look down on the members of the other gender, the fight for women liberation will continue for a long time.