Women and girls constitute a sizeable number of Africa’s population. Unfortunately many of them have not been given chances of success in the past due to stereotypes, cultural as well as religious limitations across Africa. Even though things are changing but women empowerment and progress issue is still far behind in Africa and other developing countries.
While the outcry and advocacy for women empowerment continues across the world with the creation of special United Nations entity-United Nations Women, Women issue began to gain special attention. As much as this has been helping, African Women like other women across the developing World need a lot of re-orientation, support from the men folk to break the age long limitations and hindrances.
We must commend Nigeria government for inclusion of women as Ministers at the Federal level. There is now a certain quota reserved for women. This is commendable. In the past and present National Assembly/Parliament also, women are now members of upper and lower chambers of legislatures. It is our observation though that the ratio is still far from what is possible. Women issues are better addressed by women. While the support of men is crucial, women need to be given a voice to express and confront their own challenges.
Part of the challenges against women empowerment is that Women are not coming out strongly. No thank to years of subjugation, oppression and domination by men and other associated values. A clause we have noted with Women is internal rivalry among the womenfolk themselves. Most women do not fight for the cause of other women. They will rather take side with family traditions or their husband. While with men, the case is different. They do better in extending helps and can easily build bridges and association faster. Some religious rules as well as societal norms make women empowerment a big challenge. In some cases, women must take permission from their husbands before going out or pursue their dreams. While men folk often make binding vital decision without consulting with family members and especially their wives and girl children. To ensure a speedy women empowerment process, we suggest the following steps.
Men must champion the cause of women empowerment: the war of women empowerment must begin with men. Men need to wean themselves of any inferiority complex that comes with women empowerment. Some African men still carry the notion that women empowerment may often lead to women supremacy. Some educated men today will rather concentrate efforts on their daughters and ignore the Wife. This has to stop. A change in mindset will help. When women enjoy the backing of the men in their lives, they often develop wings to soar high.
Value re-orientation and change management: in addition to the above, lots of value re-orientation, examinations need to be done. Limiting societal and religious factors in Nigeria and Africa need some adjustment if we are really serious about getting our Women to the top.
Women must break forth from low self worth and go for their dreams: this may require some tact and strategy. Overdoing this in a sensitive environment like ours may send wrong signal.
Women must learn to take risk: taking calculated risk is part of life. The way some Africans bring up their girl children may not encourage this life style. Women are overprotected, not allow to go out, mix with others like boys. Boys are given opportunity to experiment with life. This may not strengthen achievement driven lifestyle. They must also see failure as just an event and learn to move on. Someone has said ‘if you do not take risk, you will always work for one who does’.
Change in Government Policy and constitution: certain government policies and constitutional provision also need changes or adjustment. In some countries in Africa, certain constitutional provisions impede women progress as well as aspiration.
Provision of equal landscape base on merit/ promotion of gender equality status: In addition to the above points, this will become a necessity if we are serious about women empowerment in Africa.
Women must start annexing all the opportunities: Women hold a lot of power over the next generation because they stay more with the children. They can start the changes inch by inch. They must also try something more. Ralph W. Emerson once said “unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.