Sunday, July 22, 2012

Equality for Women: More Breakthroughs, Please

My inspiration for this entry was a female cabbie I saw on my way to work one morning. It was a rare occurrence seeing her drive a taxi full of passengers, and it got me thinking, “We, Nigerians, have come a long way.”

By and large, African states are arguably patriarchal, and instances of women taking up traditionally male dominated roles are few and far between. However, that’s not to say that women aren’t making headway. For example, Joyce Banda was sworn in as the first female president of Malawi, making her the first female Head of State in southern Africa.

Similarly, Liberia has the distinction of being the first African country to elect a female president - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Also, most recently, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s first female Finance minister would have been the first female president of the World Bank if she’d gotten the American and European vote. In fact, had she been elected president, she would have been a lot of firsts: First non-American, first woman and first African to hold the position. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be since meritocracy doesn’t always reign supreme in the World Bank’s electoral process.

As optimistic as these examples are, there are still millions of women trapped and repressed by society. According to a recent Time Magazine poll, Afghanistan is one of the worst places to be a woman. A huge percentage of Afghan women are illiterate since education was prohibited until recently, but even so, those who seek an education face the perils of having acid thrown in their faces.

Incidentally, women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive and have to be squired by a male chaperone. What now? Are Saudi women incapable of behaving themselves that they need a male nanny around at all times? To add insult to injury, they aren’t even allowed to vote. I can’t comprehend the reason any more than I can for why women earn less than men for the same job in most parts of the world. Can it be the ‘unfairer’ sex thinks women are incompetent and irrational damsels in distress?
Fighting for equality
Photo: Sony
The 2011 co-recipients of the Nobel peace prize - Tawakkol Karman, President Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, highlighted the importance of involving women in nation-building, which means providing them with equal job opportunities, voting rights and allowing them participate in politics among others. All three women have worked tirelessly to put an end to the mindless political turbulence and strife that have plagued their respective countries.

No gender is greater than the other since they can’t exist independently of each other, so why does one sex think less of the other? Men shouldn’t assume they won the genetic lottery for emerging into the world as boys, because the fact is all men are born with a deformed second X chromosome commonly known as the Y chromosome. So genetically speaking, in light of this revelation, shouldn’t women feel more superior to men since they possess two perfectly formed X chromosomes? Just saying...

Borrowing from a beautiful text my dad sent me on International Women’s Day – “It’s through the emancipation of WOMEN that MANHOOD will be redeemed. Let there be EQUAL rights.” Yes, let there be equal rights for its existence ensures a much better, saner and balanced world.