I wrote an article where I discussed in brief the perspective of the Igbo man towards the girl child. This morning, I was listening to Chimamnda Adichie at Ted x, speaking on the topic ‘we should all be feminists’ (If you haven’t read it yet you need to check it out on youtube). She discussed how that there is still a lot to be done by the world to ensure gender equality. I do share her sentiments and I do think it is about time Africans begin seeing the difference between what we have done and what we need to do in this fight.
Thankfully there are a lot fewer places in Africa where girl education is still a taboo, however in our societies and families today the problem has evolved. We allow the girls in society to be educated but we don’t allow them to reach certain career peaks. We allow them to be employed but not to earn more money than the men. No one really is to blame for this because the problem is so ingrained in our subconscious we don’t even know it’s happening. The irony of the matter is about 52% of the worlds population are female. In our schools the girls surpass the boys and even now the rate of women who are becoming bread winners is sky rocketing.
I am a firm believer in positive competiton. I believe there should be a level playing field for both men and women anywhere and everywhere. Men should not be promoted because they are men but because they are the most competent and vice versa. I remember when we were looking for a course rep in school, the staff in charge of the appointment was a woman and so she chose a girl. (Not that we were jealous or started spreading rumors, she actually said that was what she would do). Eventually this girl struggled for a while and was almost beaten, removed was definately shunned by both girls and boys. In short we didn’t like her because of the her excesses that didn’t fit the job. All that might have been avoided had meritocracy and not overt femininism made the appointment of a course rep.
I know of a family where the woman is the bread winner and it eventually drove the husband nuts and ultimately ruined the marriage. What am I saying? Both men and women need to get our acts together and create a level playing field. If your wife earns more money than you find ways to show your support and relevance, the key thing is make yourself useful! The same thing, your girlfriend has better grades than you, works a better job or is even just more popular (you know when both of you take a stroll and people are like ‘see Kemi and her boyfriend’ instead of the conventional ‘see Bayo and his girlfriend’).
I know it’s in our genes as men to want to be on top and be stronger but remember the strength of the building is in the foundation. If you can’t pay for dinner say thank you, if you can’t pay the fees, pay for the fuel or at least wash the plates!