Empowering the future
One of the challenges I face in trying to effect change in my society is the way women view themselves. In a male-oriented society like Nigeria, women have become used to seeing themselves through the eyes of men and the image is not always flattering. Most men irrespective of their level of education tend to see women as no more than sex-objects or beautiful ornaments for their homes. And either based on upbringing or peer pressure, most women often tend to live up to this chauvinistic view of their sex.
It is often said that very few women are in power because very few women vote for them preferring to go with the men who are supposedly more "genetically equipped" to lead. When a woman comes up to run for a political office or tries to take up any leadership role within her society, she is usually first of all ridiculed by her fellow women before she is shunned by men.
It is little wonder then that those issues which concern women such as rape or domestic violence are often not taken seriously. Rarely are predators prosecuted as more often than not the victims are deemed culpable in the crimes against them. An issue such as female genital mutilation may not get the attention it needs under certain administrations as most male legislators, either due to religious or traditional constraints would tend to see it as “women matters” and therefore something they cannot comfortably debate on.
That women need to start speaking for themselves is clear but it should be made clearer that we need the support of other women so that our voices can really be loud.
It is therefore time for a change of mindset and we can achieve this by empowering the future. Young girls need to be taught how to think in terms of “what I can do” and “not what should be done to me or for me.”
They need a new set of role models who are not just celebrities that dress up in beautiful designer outfits. We need these young women to become women leaders of tomorrow. By celebrating women who have created movements and effected change despite the odds that they faced in a discriminatory society, we can teach young girls to see that there is nothing wrong in speaking up and speaking out. And in this way, also encourage these women and others who are yet to do so to continue speaking.
Using the platform that World Pulse provides I intend to celebrate such women especially within my society, to help create awareness around the causes that they fight for so that they can get all the support they need. I will do this either by writing an article on their challenges or interviewing them on how they have managed to conquer. When stories of these unique women such as the late Wangari Maathai are told, the future generation would truly be empowered for change.