I recently stumbled across Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s speech on YouTube, We Should All Be Feminist, and I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts on feminism as well. I have discovered in my life that whatever I want to do or become or achieve can only be achieved by patience, strategy and hard work; or in only two words: drive and vision. Nothing has come to pass for me through harshness or force, and that is why I am sharing this.
I feel that women are created to be helpmates to their men. At this stage of my life, I might be the weaker vessel, but I am not stupid. I believe we are not equal. Maybe in some years to come we might be, but at the present moment, we are not.
I share in the sentiment that women should be paid the same rate as men if they do the same job.
I am in support of the fact that women should be treated with respect and dignity.
I respect each and everyone`s culture, and I understand that cultures were made by people. However, cultural practices should be subjected to amendment, redefinition and readjustment as time moves forward and things change.
I do not think it is right to be harsh or disrespectful to anyone when expressing one’s disapproval against injustices at workplace. Your work and attitude towards differing opinions can earn you more than that equal right you demand.
I remember Oprah Winfrey being interviewed by Stanford Business’ Graduate School. She shared a story from when she was 23 years old where she anchored a show in Baltimore called “People Are Talking” in 1979 and 1980. Oprah said she realized her co-host was being paid more than she was, and she decided to confront her boss and ask why that was so. To her greatest surprise, her boss replied to her by saying the man had more responsibilities than she did. “Thank you for your time,” was how she responded.
Obviously she was disappointed by her boss’s response, but she never let it bother her or deter her from reaching her destination. Instead, she got more creative and looked ahead. Oprah focused on how she would be a force to be reckoned with in the industry. She resolved that her work would speak for her, and she began re-strategizing and setting and accomplishing career goals. Through determination in achieving her goals, her fight against gender inequality produced positive results. She earned the desired equality and respect through her impressive work made possible by her gift and skill set.
Women should always present themselves in a manner that allows them to be respected. I remember in 2013, I went to Nigeria to create an awareness for a magazine. At the time, I was still under the payroll of the media group. I must say I was treated with so much respect and dignity whenever I went to offices on appointment to see people that mattered in the society because I presented myself in a manner than demanded respect. How a woman positions herself before her male counterparts is very important. A woman will be addressed only by the way she is dressed.
While I was working as a receptionist in a hotel in Nigeria, ladies would queue up to see the Chairman of the hotel. Some of them had motives that were not clear, and some would come to obtain business favours. The only means to achieve their goals was through seduction. Furthermore, there is this crazy norm accepted by some Nigerian women that if one does not have a wealthy husband, boyfriend or “sugar daddy,” one cannot succeed financially. It is so sickening to believe that the only way a woman can get a man to accept her business proposal is to sleep with him. Seriously speaking, some Nigeria ladies need to be reminded that they don’t have to sell their bodies before they meet their goals. I believe the manner of approach employed when meeting people matters, and it leaves the person you are meeting with some sort of impression towards you.
Women should never compromise on their dignity in any situation they may find themselves in, regardless of what being offered. I feel there is a need to educate and empower them in order to have a positive change of mindset. This calls for an urgent renewal of the mind that involves discarding faulty belief and replacing it with new ideals that comes from inspiration, empowerment and examples of leading, independent and successful women. At times, we seem to forget that we are all unique in our own way, and we’ve got talents. Our gifts can bring us before kings. Examples of some women who have diligently earned dignity and respect include Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Omotola Jalade, Folorunsho Alakja and Lupita Nyong`o, just to mention a few.
Folorunsho Alakija was very creative, diligent and determined in order to reach the heights where she sits today. When she was working at a bank, she felt uncomfortable with the way the company was being run. She felt she could do better and earn more if she put all her time and efforts into starting something on her own. She chose to resign, and she became really strategic. She went to the UK and harnessed her gifts, and we can see for ourselves how far this decision took her. My question is, what do you think of her? I think when it comes to gender equality and respect, she got it by working on her gift, by not giving up on her dream, and by walking tall always even though there were challenges.
I suggest we need to be the role models that young ladies seek. We have to inspire our girls to reshape and change their way of thinking. People often get upset and amazed whenever some stories about girls, ladies and even married women in Nigeria are shared. I heard of a woman in Nigeria who lives in Banana Island, one of the posh places to live in Nigeria. She has fleet of cars and material things courtesy of her husband, but she is a full time house wife. Whenever a misunderstanding or serious quarrel would erupt, he would lock her up for days in the basement. I guess you know how this would make her feel. Would this make her happy or boost her self esteem? Does she get an inner fulfillment that she is not in charge of her life? It is therefore expedient that she needs to be empowered, but this can only happen if she is willing to surrender to a change of mindset and become independent. Yes, she might have material things at her disposal, however, she herself is of little or no value to the man. That is why she is being treated like a piece of furniture. Funny enough, there are numerous young ladies who look up to her as a role model.
So where do we start from? Should we start from the top or bottom? Why don’t we deal with this wrong mindset before we start talking about gender equality? Equality and respect can only be earned when we prove our worth as women, and we still have a lot of work to do.
Talk is cheap, guys, and actions speak volumes. Let us be the agent of change and work hard to achieve the gender equality we desire. Let us pursue our dreams and keep our visions alive, and in no time, we will all get to our desired destinations.
As Maya Angelou once said, “I come as one, I stand as ten thousand.” This quote should be a defining slogan for my dear Nigerian women when we find ourselves in a situation where we are about being looked down upon or being manipulated. We should stay strong by not giving in, not offering our bodies as exchange and valuing ourselves with respect. Let us put more effort in becoming the change we want in our girls, ladies and women. Afterwards, we can now talk about gender equality and being treated with the kind of respect we are entitled to.
Positive thinking brings about extra ordinary and life changing steps in one`s life. It makes you see the impossibility as possible. Its gives your life a good balance and build an exceptional drive in your life that takes you to the next level. Being a female in Nigeria, I would like to see a change that has never happened before. It is possible but we have to pull our heads together, strategic and think positive always, feel positive and act positive.
Women let us come together and act, be that change that we all want to be. Invest more in our girls. Build training centres, provide things needed for our girls to be empowered.