Women, the cornerstone of any nation have for long been relegated to the rear of society’s progressive agenda. Several Countries including the United States, still participate in the unfair treatment of women, whereby women are paid considerably less than their male counterparts.
As if the economic disadvantages that women across the globe still grapple with are not enough, issues of gender-based discrimination and sexual exploitation against women are still rife in today’s 21st Century.
Thankfully, several women empowerment initiatives such as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, have brought some of the issues that affect womanhood to the front pages of several national and international tabloids.
However, empowering women to unearth and live to the fullest of their God-given potentials goes beyond all that publicity.
There is still so much that needs to be done. And here is why.
It appears that the whole discussion about empowering women is not currently universal. While a lot of western countries are turning the tide and stimulating discussions that seek to liberate and empower women, the same is unfortunately not the case in less developed nations.
For example, sexual harassment though still prevalent in countries like the United States is done in a lot of hush-hush manner. Meaning, people who go out of their way to abuse others sexually, do so under intense secrecy, because they know that the penalties for their actions carry with it grave consequences.
But, the same is not the case in other less developed societies. Men recklessly abuse women as they like, and because of the triviality associated with such acts in countries such as Afghanistan, there is usually no explicit legal, political or social deterrents to their actions.
If the global community is serious about empowering women of all nations and tribes, then discussions such as the #MeToo and the #TimesUpcampaigns should be taken beyond the borders of the United States.
Apart from issues of sexuality and abuse that women often face, one other area where many women are still marginalized is in the area of educational and social empowerment. Many nations of the world still frown against girl child education, and in today’s workplace, gender-based discrimination is still very prevalent.
How can we say we are fighting to empower women when women are paid considerably less for the same work that they do as men?
In some societies, women are not even recognized in some professions. I remember while I was working as a Physician in Nigeria. Many of the patients I attended to, referred to me as a nurse, while they accorded my male colleagues their full respect by calling them, doctors.
Why was that? It is because the society had taught them that some professions are only worthy of men, but not for women. Women were better suited to lesser grade jobs. And so, they could never wrap their heads around the fact that a woman could, in fact, go through medical school and become a doctor.
And over a decade since that experience, “do I think that practice or misconception about women has changed?” I seriously doubt it.
So, what can we, members of the international community do to change the narrative about empowering women?
It begins with the way our daughters are being raised. We must raise our girls in the same way we raise our boys. We must let our girls know that they can dream again and become all they were created to be.
We must teach our girls that they too can become CEO’s, and do not need to always be employees. We must train our girls to understand that they can also excel in science, math, engineering, technology, and arts, just like their male counterparts.
We must teach our girls that they are allowed to dream. They should be taught that they can dream as far as they want and imagine that they can actually become all they see in themselves.
We must train our girls to know that having a uterus, is not an automatic pass to dream less than the boys. Having a uterus is no sentence to living a life of mediocrity.
And the best thing her parents can do for her is to continue to fuel her embers; is to continue to allow her the opportunity to dream as big as she wants and soar as high and as far as she could ever imagine.
On this special occasion of the International Women’s Day celebration, it’s a renewed call for all of us to empower our girls to dream again. This year’s theme has been tagged #PressforProgress. And there could be no better time than now for this call to action.
Because, like my Father always say to me, “what a man can do, a woman can do even better!” And there is so much truth in that statement. You’ve got to believe me!
To your continued success. Cheers!!!