GENDER EQUALITY IS NOT RIVALRY WITH MEN

Olanike
Posted March 3, 2015 from Nigeria
Olanike receiving support from two male allies
Men and women ought to be partners in progress. There is no cause for rivalry.
Olanike presenting books to the Director of Climate change Unit of the Federal Ministry of Environment; on behalf of the Global power Shift, Nigeria Team.
Olanike presenting books to the Director of Climate change Unit of the Federal Ministry of Environment; on behalf of the Global power Shift, Nigeria Team.: Societies where men and women work in harmony are very progressive. (1/1)

NIGERIA- The World Economic Forum’s 2014 gender gap index unveils the huge gender gap that still exists in Nigeria. Nigeria ranked 118 out of 142 countries with a score of 0.639. When compared to 2013’s position of 106 out of 136 countries, one may be tempted to think that considerable steps have been taken to address the missing links. The stark and sad reality, however, is that Nigerian women are still struggling to either stem or live above the misconceptions about gender equality.

Worries

Although Nigeria is a party to the Convention of Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which significantly seeks to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment, not much has been done in the area of getting it domesticated. Little wonder that at a stakeholders consultativeand pre-data collection testing workshop on the development of 7th and 8th CEDAW periodic report, held in Abuja in 2013, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina, expressed worries over the failure of the National Assembly to domesticate the United Nations (UN) report on the Convention of Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women CEDAW).

Of course, same fate greets the locally developed and sponsored Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill.

Men's thinking

Two weeks ago, I had a transaction to make at a bank on behalf of my organization- Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE). Once inside the banking hall, I approached the appropriate counter. With all sense of courtesy, I greeted one of the banking officers who was seated behind the counter, and requested for a banking transaction slip. By this time, another bank customer- a male had walked towards where I was standing. As ought to be, he stood by in wait for his turn. Having completed the slip, I handed it back and watched on as the bank official reviewed the details I had filled in. By the time the officer raised his head, he had a wide grin on his face as he says to me, “We men are also going to form Men’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment”. I understood exactly what he meant and told him that there would be no need for that, as men were all too welcome to join the cause of WISE.

Rivalry

Joining in the conversation, the male customer who had all along been silent adds, “Women are just doing their thing and they won’t allow us to be a part of it; because they are trying to be equal with us”. Over the years, I have found myself in similar situations and have become all too used to such stereotyped way of reasoning.

I did my best to make the most out of the opportunity by explaining to the two men that gender equality is not in any way a contest with men but a call to partnership between men and women.

While it was obvious that the bank staff bought into my explanation, I knew that it would take more hours of lecture to win the other man over. Well, it is no longer news that many women and men are yet to come to terms with the place of women in the society; particularly as it concerns women’s rights roles and responsibilities in the society.

Barriers

The idea of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Nigerian society remains misunderstood within many cycles. Gender inequalities is still manifested and reinforced by the very systems that ought to challenge the entrenched problems. It is worth mentioning that tradition, culture and religion constitute the greatest barriers that women face, today in making any meaningful progress. As a matter of fact, the situation is no different when one considers the very institutions, mechanisms and processes that shape the society.

Moving On

Nigerian women can no longer pretend that all is well when it comes to having equal access to decision making, leadership, as well as capacity building opportunities. However, truth remains that the gap which exists cannot be bridged in isolation.

Women need one another as well as the support of men to change discriminatory societal practices which continues to relegate them to the background. "If gender to be everybody's issue, then we need to find constructive ways of working with men as well as with women to build the confidence to do things differently" states Andrea Cornwall (1997).

Women and men must work together towards addressing the issue of gender inequality at all levels. Very importantly, women themselves must wake up to the reality that the bulk of work that needs to be done to help men welcome, accept, understand, and appreciate the why and how of gender equality and women’s empowerment rests on the shoulders of women. Change will happen when women take it upon themselves to make it happen.

References

http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2014/

http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2013/

http://nigerianewsbeat.com/minister-decries-non-domestication-cedaw-gend...

http://elearning.genderhub.org/

Comments 21

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Lisa Anderson
Mar 03, 2015
Mar 03, 2015

Dear Greengirl,

I like the way you addressed the situation at the bank by using the opportunity to listen and educate. The line "...gender equality is not in any way a contest with men but a call to partnership between men and women" is quite powerful.

Thank you for sharing this research and powerful call for women's equality!

Warm regards,

Lisa

Olanike
Mar 11, 2015
Mar 11, 2015

Hello Lisa

Your words are heartwarming and empowering. Thank you so much for listening to me and even reaching out.

When men and women embrace the power of listening to each other, there is no doubt that current gender gaps will be fixed. I am happy to stay connected with you!

Olanike

libudsuroy
Mar 05, 2015
Mar 05, 2015

Atta woman you are, greengirl! So much weight on the shoulders of those who hold up half the sky.

Olanike
Mar 11, 2015
Mar 11, 2015

Dearest Libudsuroy,

I am so happy to read your thoughts, which you always pen down creatively and beautifully. What a honor to connect with you again. I sincerely appreciate your words of acknowledgment.

Love and respect, Olanike

Yvette Warren
Mar 05, 2015
Mar 05, 2015

I love your insights and answers, Greengirl. I am hoping that we will have more women telling the stories of their successful parnerships with men. This is the only way that I see all of us having examples on which we can model our own partnerships.

Thank you for being a true and strong voice in the vision of gender equality.

Olanike
Mar 11, 2015
Mar 11, 2015

There would be no point speaking when no one is there to listen. Thank you for always shoeing up with your listening prowess.

Every big change starts small, and I am sure that one step at a time, women claim their rightful place in all facets of human endeavour. We must stay positive and never loose sight that partnership with men is realisable.

I believe it's time for women to start building on approaches to gender equality and women's empowerment, which is working. Our voices count in these efforts, and we must never give up.

Thank you for your consistent support!

Hugs, Olanike.

Tiffany Purn
Mar 06, 2015
Mar 06, 2015

You capture a whole movement and call to action within a simple, clear story.   You have an incredible way with words.  This story makes me think - where are the men who *are* doing this work?  Who feel the burden on their shoulders, too. The men who are human rights advocates and who understand that gender equality is the human rights issues of our time?  How do promote their work, raise them up, and create strong partnerships?  So, the point is, your piece really got me thinking.  And inspired!  

Olanike
Mar 11, 2015
Mar 11, 2015

It's a delight to read your truly inspiring comment. You also got me thinking!

I very much agree with your perspective on the need to identify and promote the efforts of men who are working and supporting women in the drive for gender equality. Yay, women muft begin to celebrate the efforts of such partners in progress.

Happy International Women's Day to you!

Olanike

Chelsea Maricle
Mar 09, 2015
Mar 09, 2015

Dear Olanike,

I have always been and will always continue to be inspired and humbled by your inner strength, maturity of thinking, and way with people of all walks of life. Thank you for giving light to this kind of interaction, one that you are so used to facing as you say. The more we can give visibility to the gaps in our thinking, eradicate the sense of rivalry, and build the sense of partnership, the faster we will reach true equality! 

I love your call to women, that change will happen when we take it upon ourselves to make it happen.

My very best wishes to you and all you do,

Chelsea

Olanike
Mar 11, 2015
Mar 11, 2015

Your words are so profound, and I was moved to echo every word as I read through .

I am hopeful that change will continue to happen, as we continuously discover and build on what is working.

Much love, Olanike

Damilola Fasoranti
Mar 10, 2015
Mar 10, 2015

Olanike, I love that line: '...gender equality is not in any way a contest...'

It isn't a struggle. Whatever we desire to see in our world, It rests on all of us to work together to make it happen.

We may not be there as a nation yet, but with time and with more women taking up this cause and facing it head on, we will see the kind of world we desire.

Thanks for the beautiful lines.

Olanike
Mar 11, 2015
Mar 11, 2015

Hello Damilola,

I am happy to read your thoughts, which I found very encouraging and motivating.

It always makes a world of difference when men and women work together to create change. I hope more men like you will come to terms with the positives of accepting women's rights, roles and responsibilities in the society.

Yes, I believe that gender equality is possible in our nation and the world at large. Let's keep spreading the positiveness in the call for partnership between men and women.

Best regards, Olanike

Cali gal Michelle
Mar 11, 2015
Mar 11, 2015

My dearest Greengirl-

So great to read your words again, and let the memories of our discussions warm my heart.  I am also reminded of how important this topic is, and the idea of bringing it as a discussion point.  Thank you for writing and posting this, and hope others will respond with their thoughts and reflections.

With much love,

Olanike
Mar 12, 2015
Mar 12, 2015

My lovely sister and friend, thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful opinion with me, once again.

I like the idea of "bringing it on as a discussion point. The reality is that if meaningful progress must be made, a universally agreed understanding of gender equality must be reached. Mindsets must change in ways that will make the issue of gender equality a collective agenda.

It's time to pep up conversations that will lead to common understanding. Now, I am wondering about how best to stir this up in our group? I know I count on you to contribute ideas towards initiating this drive this drive.

With fond memories, Olanike

Cali gal Michelle
Mar 12, 2015
Mar 12, 2015

❤️

Olanike
Mar 13, 2015
Mar 13, 2015

Thank you so much Michelle for your support. You are dearly appreciated. Hugs!

Mar 13, 2015
Mar 13, 2015
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
Tamarack Verrall
Mar 16, 2015
Mar 16, 2015

Dear Olanike,

Since reading your story I have been taking some time to mull over your thoughts, experiences and suggestions on how to address the ongoing jabs that we continually counter from some men, and the support we are thankfully more and more able to embrace from those who are working with us. As I read your account of the experience in the Bank I held my breath, as I so often have to do in hearing of similar experiences that bold women face, hoping that you stayed safe through it, and so you did. No surprise to me that you were able to handle it with grace, savvy and wisdom. I agree that it is an important step each time we interrupt some message that intends to stop our momentum, and my heart was happy that you taught both men in that moment. Even the one who remained resistant will never forget your kind and determined lesson. Part of what we do, is to try to undo the kneejerk reactions that so many men feel it is their pleasure or duty to express. Each time they are met with wisdom, the energy shifts. But as I read, I was sorry that your precious energy had to be used that day for even one more minute of this.

What does give me tremendous hope these days is the growing number of men who are, and are becoming true allies in changing this culture based on putting women down. I have been so moved by the dedicated, determined and humble work being done by men  working with us in WorldPulse, as well as men introduced to me through many WorldPulse sisters, and I have been encouraged by men here in my life as well, who are not threatened, who are working for change and who welcome the shift.

Thanks for opening the dialogue. May we all stay safe as we continue, and may our men allies know that we appreciate all they do.

With deep love and respect,

Tam

Olanike
Mar 17, 2015
Mar 17, 2015

Hello Tam,

It's always a delight to learn from your wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with me and other members of our group.

I can readily identify with the anxiety you felt, as you read about my encounter at the bank.  Your words of ffirmation and validation as regards how I handled the situation, is very much appreciated. I feel motivated to stay positive that change will surely happen irrespective of the day to day resistance encountered by women and girls.

Like you, I cannot help but applaud the steadfastness of our male allies towards the cause of gender equality and women's empowerment. It is hoped that sooner than later, the generality of humankind will come to esteem the place of women in the society.

I look forward to those days! Thank you!!!!

Dudziro Nhengu
Mar 23, 2015
Mar 23, 2015

Dear Greengirl

I agree with you, men are not our enemies, they have a lot to elarn from us. Onward sister! Great stuff, and allthe ebst with peaceful elections in your country.

Olanike
Mar 23, 2015
Mar 23, 2015

I love to echo your words that "men are not our enemies, they have a lot to learn from us. It's about time we start creating those opportunities for men to learn from us. Yay!

Yes, all eyes are on Nigeria at this time; and there is nothing more most Nigerians wish for than for the elections to go on and turn out peacefully. 

Your thoughtfulness means a lot to me!

Olanike