Will I make an impact on the world by being an activist, or just another anonymous donor? Will I fight on the battlefields of life, be amongst the brave ones struggling for a better world, or more disappointingly – would I be one of life's many spectators and waiting and watching as things happen, not making them happen?
These are some of the questions I often ask myself growing up in Nigeria. Being torn between what the societies expects of me, and from what I expect of myself.
Nigeria is not a nation that makes a big deal out of celebrating International Women's Day, in my opinion. Yes, some do acknowledge its relevance out of the other 365 days the world is going to witness this year. On the 8th of March radio stations conducted games and played programs aligned to the theme of the day, television channels showed movies and new reports to honour women with underlying messages like motherhood, girl education and feminine independence. Husbands and boyfriends are more often than not "encouraged" to view the day as a continuation of Valentine's Day – besides, it is not as if they have any more creative ways to tell the women in their lives of their love and appreciation. In general, they all do their parts in trying to get the word out to the people, but are we really doing enough?
In comparison, rural life is somewhat limited to urban dwelling. Though research and experience show that women have been marginalized and discriminated against no matter the size of their city or town, the situation is worse for the rural women who have are more likely to have low literacy level and consequently, have become mere tools at the hands of their husbands. These women work tirelessly from morning till late in the evening trying to provide the most for their family.
They are often poorly nourished and lack adequate health care; their efforts mostly unrecognised and unappreciated. Unlike their urban counterparts, majority of them are poor financially and educationally. They often possess very little, if any decision-making power. This in no small way affects the young women living in the society.
How can they, seeing all this happen rise above to be empowered, enlightened and create positive impact in their environments, increasing the respect and appreciation of women in their communities?
Education is the key. Without education how can one be enlightened enough, believe in one's own ability to dream, and dream big?
We need to empower women all around the world. To empower means to give authority to and enable a person gain power. I have found that a simple way to achieve this is to believe in them and enable them believe in themselves. If Dr. Tererai Trent, a Zimbabwean who was married at 11 with three children at age 18 whose husband reportedly beat her everyday could still rise out of what most saw as a dead-end situation, then who cannot?
We all have to play our parts in this never-ending drama of life. I know what I was born to play. Do you?