On arrival to a predominantly African setting, it is not uncommon to see little girls mimicking the role of mothers and housewives in their child’s play. This activity, though not entirely wrong, could be mainly attributed to the thought process the said girls’ have been exposed to. As little girls, we are basically tailored to be the caring and sacrificing gender.
In times past, the basic role and duty of a typical woman was to look appealing for the other gender. Additionally, she has the responsibility to bear children, take care of the household and perform other wifely duties and obligations. In certain areas of the world, girls and women are mainly reared for marriage and childbirth purposes. For instance, Nouakchott village in Mauritania. In this village, young girls on becoming of age, are sent to a traditional camp. There, they are forcefully fed with unhealthy fat-inducing foods and drinks; basically fattened in order to “look beautiful and ripe for marriage”.
So many of such practices are unhealthy and detrimental to the female folk. One of such is the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. FGM is a common occurrence in some parts of Africa. They believe that failure to circumcise females would result in the girl-child being promiscuous and hypersexual.
Similarly, another abhorrent practice is Child Marriage. This is the marrying off of little girls from as young as nine years old to paedophiles; who pose as rightful husbands to these younger brides. This practice mainly occurs in the northern part of Nigeria and usually as a result of financial settlement, religious practices and false moral beliefs. Then comes the issue of rape, violation and harassment of women. These are but a few vices and crimes committed against us.
Thankfully, the introduction of western civilization and education has come to our aid. In this part of the world where we are mainly regarded as barbaric and unyielding to logic, it has resulted in a significant decrease of most of these inhumane practices.
In addition, the movement of feminism have served to educate more women on their basic rights; which were previously being infringed upon. This is why we are able to see more females present in various sectors. Take, for instance, places of worship, government, politics and positions of power.
The upcoming generation of females believes in equity and equality for both sexes. We desire to live in a world where the average woman would be viewed as an asset to the society and not a liability.
There is currently an immense hunger brewing in the present generation of females for the creation of an invaluable network of winning women. Already ingrained in us is the belief that education is pertinent for the success of a woman. It should be duly noted that all-round wellbeing of the girl-child is pertinent. It is an absolute necessity for continuous thriving and survival of the female folk.
GENDER EQUALITY: THE WAY FORWARD
An undeniable fact known to us all is that we live in a world tailored in the finest fabrics of patriarchy. Contrary to popular belief which suggests that feminists are haters of men and wanton females, the upcoming generation of young women believe that the quest to attain equality and equity between sexes is not a race. It is truly not a struggle for supremacy or dominance. In actual fact, it is simply a plea to be accorded with the basic regard befitting a human; a request to no longer be seen as the weaker and irrelevant sex; a movement fighting for equity amongst ourselves.
Evolution is the only constant thing in our human life. It should be fully understood that the change should start with us. If evolution in terms of equality is successfully incorporated into the system, it would give rise to better future generations of males and females. These future generations would have an extensive understanding of equity and equality between both sexes.
The future we crave is one in which women are placed on the same pedestals as men. They are given equal opportunities and enjoying the same privilege. Additionally, it is one where we are free from being judged for circumstances beyond their control. It is a future where we are regarded as human beings; and not as some tool for objectification and gratification to the other gender.
This is the future we need, the change should start with us and we believe the time is now.
Jane Egerton-Idehen is a telecommunication executive with over 13 years’ experience in the Nigerian, Liberian and Ghanaian telecommunications markets.
Jane has a strong passion for promoting girls in STEM and ensuring women in STEM industries remain and grow their careers in that industry. She curates her thoughts around her career journey, experiences and passion in life.