The very idea of women empowerment presupposes that women lack power, for what is empowerment if not to give power or to make powerful. And the fact that there is no men empowerment suggests that men are already powerful; powerful enough not to need more power. Since at the end of the day both women and men lay claim to the same humanity and traceable to the same God, needless to say that this power distribution reflects a gross imbalance; it is even unjust.
On a second thought, when Jefferson and his friends quoted, as part of the American Declaration of Independence text, “All men were created equal and were endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” did their men mean the collective humanity of both sexes or just the masculine gender? Given that the 1776 American woman wasn’t equally opportune as her American man counterpart, those revolutionaries would have, at best, been paying lip-service to the gender question. The fact that they even kept slaves betrays them further, for a slave does not know rights – not of life, not of liberty, talk less of the pursuit of happiness.
It is interesting that our own age and time has woken up to the reality of the gross gender imbalance and the fact that women are more often than not treated as second fiddles. We find this common interest in especially the naming of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment as one of the hitherto Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, and the up and running Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. Of course, it is laudable that the entire world, under the auspices of the United Nations, is speaking the same language in this regard. And we’re optimistic things will turn out for the better.
However, while the UN and the governments of her member-nations are strategizing on how to best realize this particular and peculiar goal, methinks that there are some very simple things we can all be doing every single day with a view to upturning the status quo in little little but significant ways. The following are needful:
- Women must put their house in order
While a handful of women are doing something about the struggle for gender emancipation, a whole many others appear to be glorying in the status quo. Of course, they prefer the current order where it’s the man’s job to bread-win. Minus that, most of the inhumanities being meted out to women are carried out by women. Who executes female genital mutilation? Women. In some cultures, who accuses the widow of bearing a hand in the man’s death and have her drink the corpse’s bathwater? Women. Women appear to always be competing about one thing or the other, leaving us with the case of a kingdom divided against itself. To make headway in this gender thing, women must put their house in order in order to forge a common front.
- Mothers must raise boys and girls in a new way
Socialization is everything! No human being is born with the sense of gender. It’s something we acquire as members of society, which is what culture is about. I’ve personally heard mothers tell their girls to respect their boys because they’re “men.” What sort of orientation is that? What do we make of the recurring scenario where the girl-child is programmed into subservience from Day 1? She must learn how to cook, take care of even her older brothers, “make” herself the “object” of men’s sexual appetite, etc. And then the boy is given license to lazy around and lord it over her sisters. This is mad. Mothers must ensure that boys and girls grow up to understand that neither masculine nor feminine is a superior gender; both are complementary.
- Women should understand power in a better light
Days back Kim Kardashian posted a nude photo of hers that raised a lot of concerns on Twitter. She had to do an open letter afterwards to answer her critics. Part of that letter says, “I am empowered by my sexuality.” Nigerians would render this as “bottom-power” – power derivable from being sexy. “Bottom-power” is responsible for commercial sex work, for instance, and every other instance where women solely bank on their sexual prowess to get things done. Chimamanda Adichie says that “bottom-power” is not power at all. Her reason is not unconnected with the fact of “women objectification.”
In essence, women must become powerful by developing their potentials and getting busy at solving the many problems plaguing our collective essence as humans. Of course, the “bottom-power” thing is an advantage – not power qua power.
- Men must be true to their women
As a reason for anything, “Because you’re a woman is not good enough.” Even women lift heavyweight. Why must the fact of being a woman pose a challenge to one? Men must demand that their women sit up. And yes they can! By not insisting our women rise up to the challenges of life, we encourage them to go lazy and lazy and lazy, such that they’re caught up in the intricate web of dependence. Truth be told, no real man wants to have a woman overly dependent on him. This example is inspiring. A man said to his wife: What if I die now what will you do? Of course, the women didn’t need any soothsayer to tell her that sitting up is not optional.