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Let us let her out

Published by The Nation on Sun, 17 Mar 2019

The world celebrated the international womens day on 8thMarch, but we are celebrating them today. As they say, better late than never. So, Im just going to pretend that I do not have a womans blood flowing through my veins, roll up my sleeves and raise that heavy glass to toast the women folk, very well done to you!I can hear you breathing over my shoulder, well done for what' Just for being women, I say; that is onerous enough, dont you think' In the present socio-economic and socio-political clime of Nigeria, women are bearing the ugly brunt. When the food bins are dry and the dust bins are drier, its the women who wail most in the house. Its probably because they feel the hunger before the children. Worse, when the entire house is divided down the middle on account of their political alliances (I hear in some houses, some are APC and some are PDP), its the women who have to sew the middle partition together quickly and quietly.A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can, says Jane Austen. Yeah, things were that bad in her day. That was when women were not even allowed to be human beings. One reason for the enforced silence could have been that no one wanted to hear what she had to say. Another reason could have been that she really had something to say, and she might have been right in it too. Thats why the theme for this years celebration is Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.Anyway, thank God that some women did not keep their knowledge to themselves. Otherwise, we would not have had the accomplishments of many women to celebrate today. Im thinking of the women who have distinguished themselves in the military or medical fields both at home or abroad. We cannot list all women who achieved things here.We certainly cannot list the women who failed to achieve things either here; I think the census board has already done that. The women who achieved things did so because they had some lettering. Many have not been able to do the same because of this lack of the ability to read and write. We nevertheless must celebrate them too because they are forging ahead to make their marks on their children, husbands, neighbours and communities. They are the unsung heroes of homes where heroes and heroines spring from. These are the ones who are addressed by the theme of the IWD this year: think equal, build smart, innovate for change. Ive said that already, havent I' Never mind; put it down to old age.First, how can we think equal when we are not equal' One of the incontrovertible facts of the modern society is that men and women are not born equal. While men are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, women are born with a silver spoon in their hand. Ever since, the playing ground has not been plain for everybody. How then can they ever compete' Nevertheless, women must try. They must try to equalise and make that playing field plain.They could start by translating the language of the world into women-speake. Right now, that language is men-speake. The men-speake says that more men are needed in the workplace than women. Men-speake says that men, because they are the head of the family, need more pay. Above all, men-speake says that men have more enduring power than women. I dont know if they do not have a point there. Listen as I tell you a story.I watched three people, one man and two women, search everywhere for a missing bag. Finally, having no luck, they decided to call off the search. On their way back to their car, they noticed a manhole sitting off the road. Now everyone knows that the lid of manholes need to be prized open and they are heavy. Right. So, the two ladies simply pocketed their hands and looked at the man expectantly. That man had no option but to bend down and pull off the lid. No equality there obviously.Women-speake does not argue against the muscles of men or the lack of it in women. So, equality is not about who has more muscles. It is simply about the fact that since men and women draw the same breath, they both deserve equal chances. This means that women should have the same chance at getting quality education, adequate training and a good job as men. There should no longer be any discrimination in the training opportunities given to children. Err, it also means that men should get the same chance in looking after the children too and doing the house chores.The theme also says build smart. Women need to apply wisdom in building themselves and their families and generally planning their lives. In Nigeria right now, particularly in some states, the teacher population is made up of mostly women. Yet, a larger per centage among them are indifferent to the quality of their stewardship. Whereas some among the female teachers (were talking about women today) are truly interested in their job and are teaching inspiringly, too many among them are content with giving their wards absolutely nothing throughout the day. In the end, the pupils are no better for meeting them.Women need to change themselves for the better. They need knowledge. Every woman should always have this invisible performance assessment form she fills out on herself each year where she fishes out her areas of strength, weakness, growth, retardation or retrogression for the year. I know I do. For instance, in one year, I found that I knew too little about birds. They surround me everywhere but I had only known them as the creatures from hell that drop their wastes on my car every day after they have had breakfast on my fruits. So, I set out to start noticing the flying things. Thats how I know that some are called long-tailed swallows. True, after a while I could no longer tell the difference between them and the tails of other birds, but at least I started somewhere. Now, Im up to robins. Only, Im trying to differentiate between those and starlets. Ill get there. The point is, ladies, youve got to build yourselves up, be smart and keep growing, or elseGrowth necessitates ideas, ideas bring innovations, new ways of doing things, new ways of loving our charges, teaching our pupils, engineering the bridge and the society, doctoring the patient at work and the hurt teenager in the house, receiving the visitor at the reception desk, or even cooking that stew. There are always new ways, and innovation leads to them. In turn, circumstances change, situations change for the better. Religion has its place, but the truth is that many of us women spend more time praying than applying our muscles to accomplishing things, but prayers must be accompanied by the brain and brawn. If a team dont know how to play football, praying will not help them.The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) right now needs every segment of the society to contribute its quota. No woman or girl should allow herself to be left behind in this effort to grow the society. Every female in any endeavour is a woman of valour waiting to happen. Let us let her out.
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