Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A people, more than a gender. #BeBoldForChange #IWD2017

The write-up below was tiled "A people, not a gender", I published it on LinkedIn after the 2016 international Women's Day. Today 8th of March 2017 happens to be another celebration of women around the world and I'm posting the article once again to promote my views on some aspects of gender equality.  The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2017, focuses on “ Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030 ”. Its also a campaign to encourage women to #BeBoldForChange. So I celebrate all the hardworking women in the world today and I hope my country Nigeria someday becomes a better place for all, irrespective of 
"A few of weeks ago, I read an article from an unidentified author which focused on his or her perceived disparities between the manner in which a girl child and a boy child are raised, suggesting that daughters enjoy better attention and training which contributes to why many of them attain financial independence quicker and consequently turn out to be breadwinners over their husbands. The article was written in preparation for the international women’s day and I quote a portion of it where the writer says;
"In too many homes, the wives are the bread winners. Too many women are paying the rent and picking bills that make a man the man. We do not need figures from the Office of Statistics because I know every woman in this country knows at least one family where the man is not truly the head. He is just a figure head... A son attends Babcock University in Nigeria or Imperial College in United Kingdom with a daughter but the daughter is trained to cook, pamper a man, be nice to in-laws and bring up children, all while she’s getting a degree. The son learns how to play basketball and wash a car. The daughter learns how to bake and how to make hair and do make-up. Girls with Masters Degrees see nothing wrong in going to learn dress making. Boys dust their CVs and write glowing stuff about themselves and send out thousands of job applications. After two or three years of fruitless search for non-existent jobs, don’t our boys start ‘processing visas’ to travel to even the most ridiculous places, countries with no pastures, least of all green ones? Meanwhile, the girls set up make-up studios, start ‘mixing cream’ making hats and dresses and everything that makes money. The boys wait for the big time to arrive in one day. It doesn’t, rarely does. So the girls begin to grow in age and in bank balance. Ripe for marriage but no man is plucking because they are still waiting. See why girls are marrying late? They acquire degrees and cars, some even properties while waiting for Mr. Right to come along. By the time he eventually comes along, the girl is already doing well in business, entrepreneurial skills honed. For a while, love covers the gap but men are not wired to be anything but the head".
Well said from a woman's perspective, but these are my thoughts. Raising our sons to earn soft skills has gone beyond the responsibility of the parents in this present day, while daughters who acquire such skills don't do so as a result of any special attention from the mother or father. The survival instinct of every individual determines how he or she reacts to his lacks and wants. By giving credit to the women folk for a perceived faster pace to financial security, I think the writer of that article has failed to pay attention to the other side of the coin. Firstly, from time immemorial, petty trading has been a thing of the women while handwork had been more synonymous to men, but when you find women or girls taking to handwork, you see majority of them going for those with the petty trading traits like bead making, make-up artistry, cake baking etc. (Though they're all big industries now). But talking about the boys; do I really think they all want to wear ties and tout CVs around? NO. Has the writer checked the rate at which the number of young boys increases in fields like web designing, graphic artistry, video production, photography etc.? They simply do their own thing the masculine way and that's why they learn and offer skills that do not limit them to the patronage of individuals only but also the patronage of organizations, trying to “package” themselves for corporate acceptability.
Media and Entertainment for example is a major industry across the world and our boys are not left behind. 70% of Nigerian young men born after 1974 is involved as a singer, rapper, actor, model, DJ, musical instrumentalist or so, if he's neither of those, then he's probably equipped with audiovisual skills either in studio engineering/production or movies/music video production. Go to Alaba market and you'll be marveled at the number of graduates you find there selling CDs and DVDs. Go to Jibowu or Mokola, the two major printing hubs in Lagos and Ibadan, 90% of people working there are boys in their 20s, 30s and 40s, they help us fix our complementary cards, invitation cards, school books etc. The question to our government, CEOs and uncles at the top is... How conducive is our environment for these young entrepreneurs? Boyz are hustling but are d uncles patronizing them? Is the government supporting SMEs? If the female child was the one getting more attention or training from the mother, how come we have thousands of our girls getting introduced to “aristo” every day? How come we have more cases of girls traveling abroad for prostitution every day? How come we have more female house helps than the male ones? For every yahoo boy, there's a yahoo girl partner!
The increase in number of homes where the woman is the breadwinner for me is a pointer to the fact that women are now stepping up their game, working hard to earn something unlike the days when girl education was seen by parents as a waste of money, thus producing loads of illiterate full housewives who end up as their husband's property and responsibility with no right to decision making except those of what to cook and when to get pregnant. Women now need to be successful just as a man should; after all it is not written in any book that a woman's career or financial destiny should be tied to her husband's. Domestic crisis emanating as a result of the woman being richer are more of personality issues from both couple. An abusive man rich or poor will remain abusive while a saucy woman employed or jobless will equally remain rude.
My submission is this; the youths in Nigeria have the same problems, irrespective of their gender. Girls getting financially established faster than the boys, then turning out to be bread winners over their husbands is totally not an indication of how untrained the boys are or how better trained the girls are in alternative skills. We cannot say absolutely that while our girls in the absence of white collar jobs quickly embrace alternative means of income, the boys don't have various other trades or skills they learn to make ends meet too. The boys have no catching up to do with the girls, but rather our country need to catch up with other great nations. I just heard this morning that power supply is worse in Bangladesh than in Nigeria! So, how come there are many "made in Bangladesh" products in our market? It shows that some countries in worse situations than Nigeria even manage to be productive while we depend forever on crude oil! Looking at the International Women’s Day 2016 campaign theme #PledgeForParity we need to rise above gender disparity, tribal and religious differences and think about how we can have a Nigeria which is better managed in terms of economy and infrastructural development. Then we may begin to witness the consequences of a better Nigeria in all our micro-economic lives.
Trust me, for every Lynda Cakes, there is Musa Graphics, for every Omolola Makeovers, there is Emeka photos, for every Fatima the bead maker, I'm sure you'll find DJ Frankie the beat maker. But, if truly the girls "make it" faster than the boys, then we all should ask ourselves why it is so?"
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                 2016   @TywoAkintoye