“This is a man’s world, but it would be NOTHING, nothing without a woman or a girl.” These are lyrics from James Brown’s 1966 classic; It is a Man’s Man’s World. But fifty-five years on and certain biases; prejudice against women, compared to men, usually in ways that is unfair, have continued to disrupt the active participation of Nigerian women in society’s upper echelons.
Gender Improvements in Business Ownership
In the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, less than one-third of registered businesses have women as their proprietary owners. According to a World Bank report, of all 44 countries with data, only about 12 showed an increase in the rate of female ownership in new organisations than in old ones. Nigeria recorded the highest number of improvements. Although this is an indication that there are more positives to come, we mustn’t get carried away. The country remains a very difficult place for women to thrive, even from mere observation.
Participation in Politics
In Rwanda, more than 60 percent of the parliament is composed of women, whereas in Nigeria, that figure stands at a mere 5.6 percent. Many barriers, including low levels of education, and gender stereotypes, continue to hinder women’s participation in politics. As a result, women who have tried have often failed. People go as low as speculating that women lack the emotional capacity to hold leadership positions, which is a misconception.
Bridging the Gap
Perhaps the greatest challenge to ensuring that women’s participation in decision making increases is that the onus falls on the same men, many of whom are of the opposite opinion, to make the laws and enforce them. Men must therefore deliberately engage in gender inclusion programs if we must take a step closer and see the sort of progress we demand.
Generally, empowering women, both educationally and financially, portends to greater productivity, deeper bonds with family, and better physical and mental health in the society. Meaning that children, youths and even MEN are likely to be the major beneficiaries of an inclusive society.
Call to Action
As we mark International Women’s Day today, tell us what your thoughts are about women in politics and business. Are you a woman? Do you stand up for women’s right? Do you amplify the call for gender equality in society? Although there is a long way to go, do you think it will ever be a Woman’s World?
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