Samuel Ndụbụisi Ezegbunam |As part of the package for commemorating this year’s Women’s Equality Day, the Jornlr team, through WhatsApp, decided to conduct a written interview with a distinguished woman of great impacts to know her thoughts about women equality and Women’s Equality Day celebration. In the course of it, the team was privileged to interview a highly educated woman, Miss Uzoma Nwabunze, who’s a lecturer at one of Nigeria’s best universities.
Speaking about her family background, Uzoma revealed she is the fourth child – as well as the second girl-child – in a family of five children. According to her, she grew up in a family and environment where both male and female children are treated equally.
The lecturer recapped the incident that brought about the Women’s Equality Day happened years back in America when a proclamation that gave women the right to vote in an election was first recognized. She believed the proclamation helped greatly in changing the narratives of how women are treated and seen in society today.
While pointing out the celebration did not only mean commemorating the rights given to women but the fair opportunity given to humans, whether male or female, to assume positions they are suitably qualified for, the university lecturer maintained that one of the biggest problems the women are facing is ‘dealing with themselves as independent beings.’
Speaking with Jornlr reporter as to whether women of today are being marginalized, Uzoma revealed that women have made great progress as regards their liberation. Notwithstanding, she believed that women are still being marginalized in some angles of life. According to the university lecturer, unlike men, women are more often perceived to occupy fewer positions in leadership and other uncountable spheres
Sadly, Uzoma, while noting that men are given more respect and regard than women, blamed most women of today whom she believed had accepted marginalization as normal. This, according to her, has indirectly contributed massively to the growth of the unhealthy culture of marginalization of the women in society.
Speaking further, Miss Uzoma remarked that dealing with herself as an independent person is one of the biggest problems she – together with other women of today – is facing. Even though the interviewee was not against the fact the women are great helpers to their families, she was against the general notion that only portrays a girl-child as a mere helper, as someone who does not completely own herself. This, the varsity lecturer noted, unconsciously affects the way younger women see themselves as their mothers have always continued to tell them not to be aggressive, but to always be submissive to their husbands when married, no matter what. According to Uzoma, this makes the girl-child to grow up feeling inferior due to the teachings she had received while growing up.
Read the detailed interview below:
Jornlr Reporter: What does Women’s equality day mean to you?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: Okay. This is all about a proclamation made years back in America, recognizing the right of women to vote. Today, it has metamorphosed into a lot. From women partaking in the voting process to women clinching some reputable positions, just like their male folks in different sectors of the economy.
This celebration, to me, is all about the fair opportunity given to humans, whether male or female, to assume positions they are best suitably qualified for.
Jornlr Reporter: Do you feel women are marginalized?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: Definitely. As much as we can authoritatively say we have made significant progress regarding the liberation of women in various settings and cultures, there is no doubt that we still live in a patriarchal world. It’s easily observed from our regular experiences. Men are easily favoured in a more demanding and tasking functions more than their female folks, irrespective of the fact that both hold similar qualifications.
Women are often perceived to occupy lesser positions than men, and most elections push women in that corner. The sad thing is, women have grown to accept this female-hating culture the way they see it.
Jornlr Reporter: Ma, if any, what are the biggest problem women of today face?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: Alright. I would say it’s dealing with one another as independent persons. For instance, once you give birth to a girl-child around here (in Africa, Nigeria as a case study), the general notion is that you have given birth to a helper. As she grows, you introduce her to the kitchen chores, teaching her how to prepare and serve meals.
Not that that is unnecessary. But, you notice it’s not the same with the boy-child. He has a more flexible experience, armed with the wings of independence to evolve into his actual personality. Sadly, in those supposed training with the girl-child, the mother always reminds her how she should grow and how she should always be submissive to her husband. Unconsciously, she grows up with it and it reflects all through her life, careers, and future endeavours.
So, to me, most girls are made to almost surrender their willpower at such a tender stage, which robs them of that confidence to challenge the norm already established about or with the male folks and that to me is the greatest challenge for them.
Jornlr Reporter: Do you believe in the concept of feminism?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: Feminism? Definitely. Every reasonable person has to.
Jornlr Reporter: Do you think most women understand what the concept of feminism entails?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: That’s a good question. You can’t choose laziness or irresponsibility to suffice for feminism. You can’t, because you are a woman, cry wolf every other time you interface with a man. Feminism, as a concept, advocates regard for women in the face of their best. Feminism entails where the best option is preferred, even if she’s a woman among so many men. It gives considerations to worthy recognition of the women folks as credible elements, just like the men. It doesn’t advocate manipulation of men to achieve an ulterior motive. It preaches fairness, objectivity, and wholeness on the part of a woman to be appreciated and recognized for her uniqueness and professional/astute personality and excellence.
Jornlr Reporter: If any reason(s), why should women even want equality?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: Well, it’s the right thing to desire. A woman is just as important as the man. That she came out a woman was not her making and so, every hierarchy due to her should be availed her rightly.
Women should desire equality so that they can add their voices, expertise, narrative, design and, in turn, model things differently. Equality is all about being heard, understood, recognized, appreciated, integrated into the system, given a platform etc. It isn’t anything negative. It is only to ensure fairness, equity and justice. Women have a right to these things as humans, so there should be constitutional rights, as well, enforcing them too.
Jornlr Reporter: So far, do you feel there’s progress on (normalizing) gender equality?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: Well, we are gradually making notable improvements. Presently, the number of women taking up leadership positions are daily increasing. There are lots of women organisations springing up. Today, we have special days marked out to celebrate the women folks and through these associations, women are daily sensitized and empowered. These days, some obnoxious legislation against women are challenged and, to an extent, women are feeling they have something to give.
There is progress all around. Only that there is still a great deal of disparity against the womenfolk. With time, it will only get better. For now, we can say the baby steps are steadily translating to giant strides and with time, the impact of women will be felt all around and with ease, unlike it’s obtainable presently.
For now, we can beat our chests and say it is not strange again to see women as presidents or world leaders as the case would be. So, we are getting their day-by-day.
Jornlr Reporter: Do you feel women support women as much as their male folks do?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: That is a huge challenge on this clarion call for equality. I will boldly say NO. I think men see themselves as natural leaders and so, it’s easy for them to support one another.
I had said it earlier that the woman’s right to independent thinking is interfered with from childhood. She already knows she will be under a man as a wife. These little realities have their impacts on the personality and behaviour of the woman.
Whether women support women as men support men. A peek into the social media world gives you insight. Read a story where a woman’s husband was snatched, a post where a popular female divorcee cautions other wives suffering in silence or stories like that. Read comments from females. You will hear the lash out at the female victim. Apply it to other areas like business, opportunities, assistance etc.
That is the advantage men have over the women. Women see one another as competitors rather than partners. It’s difficult for them to come together and unite to achieve a purpose. They segregate among themselves and instead of having a unity of purpose, they are so divided.
So, support is what breeds love, unity, trust and others like that. Women have those as individuals, but among themselves, they have lacked the will to show it. They freely avail to the men folks. Because the men are more tightly knitted and share a greater bond, they manifest these traits which the women see and suppose the men have what it takes to steer the wheel. The women sell their rights to men without the slightest knowledge of that.
We should be thankful for these sensitisation programmes; they expose the women to the truth and with time, they will embrace one another and use their motherly instincts to reorder the status quo among themselves and their society at large.
Jornlr Reporter: Do you feel we need more women in leadership?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: Exactly, we do. Take a look around the world. Facts are backing the transformations in a women-directed economy or state. They bring in a lot of innovation, transparency, and accountability. Women are naturally resilient. They are an unstoppable force on their own. In a functional system, they can do and undo. They are emotional beings and which affect their sense of judgment. Hence there is a better chance at quality of life, better and functional service provision at all levels. Love is all they have to give since, from nurturing a child, they sacrifice all they can. In the same way, they value life and would implement policies that make for better living standards and better opportunities available to all.
Jornlr Reporter: What’s your ‘Women’s Equality Day’ message to younger and yet-to-be women?
Miss Uzoma Nwabunze: Okay. Women Equality Day is a day we should celebrate women in totality. We should celebrate our strengths and weaknesses; the journey so far and the journey still ahead; the misconception; the challenge; the triumphs; just about everything.
It is not a day to feel superior to men nor feel threatened by them. It is all about appreciating women as well as men. It’s all about re-evaluation on how to ensure a balance between both genders so that everyone – regardless of class, educational qualifications, marital status, faith, political affiliation, etc – enjoys fair treatment and equal opportunities wherever they exist. We all have a right to be here. It’s a day to look at the world more holistically. Let love lead and let the marginalization in all its forms (against any human) stop.