Easy solution to a big problem.
Most Nigerian women regardless of where you are from would have experienced gender-based negative comment that is completely devoid of any sense by the time they reach puberty and because right from home, most of us are reminded of how little our opinion mean to our immediate environment let alone larger society – the negative thoughts replays itself in the mind many times do lots of damage to women’s confidence.
Charity begins at home.
Among all Nigeria tribes, Igbo’s tradition of recognising the importance of female role in the community stands out. For them empowerment starts from birth. The first daughter called Ada from little learns that she could do all that she sets her mind to, a child like this is likely to grow up being confident and would not shy away from challenges. There is a whole culture of rituals involved around Ada but all is pointing towards a society where everyone’s inputs is equally valued regardless of ones gender.
In Yoruba culture, a first-born who happened to be a girl would not receive the same reception as in Igbo culture, actually the mother would be told “don’t worry, next time you’ll have a boy,’ which of course would be followed by the poor woman spending most of her days wishing for boys.
What I found interesting in my culture for example was that treatment of a girl-child differs for different situations. In a family where there is a boy-child, girls in that family are very likely to be treated the same as the boys and of course the girls are most likely to do all of the house chores. However, it becomes more demeaning when a family have no boy-child, then it means that the pressure is both on the mother and the ‘very’ lucky daughters to please their father and be subjected to endless rants on how having a boy-child could have made their life so much different. This on top of the larger societal narrow mindset on women ability can not be good for anyone.
What I found particularly interesting about Ada culture was that a first daughter who is raised to believe in herself would likely grow up empowering all the girls around her be a first daughter or otherwise. It would be more like ‘if I could do it so can you all’ kind of positive spirit. And this to me go well with Yoruba believe of B’orikan ba sunwon a r’angba – loosely means one well off head will affect two hundred others positively.
Please note that this is not taken away from the facts that in all of our numerous tribes, male child is favoured but the difference is that first female child in Igbo is empowered.
In Nigeria today, we have lots of women leaders representing us at the national level, (without pulling tribal preference into it which I am honestly not interested as this has never benefited the common people) looking at the names of the ladies in top positions says a lot. I do believe that everyone should get the top posts based on merit but can we honestly say we don’t have Yoruba women who are smart enough for these posts or our men (Yoruba) did what they call ‘Pull her down syndrome?’
An article with the First Lady meeting three 2015 women governorship aspirants in Abuja last month was an interesting one. No surprises that none of the three states were Yoruba.
Since we are still one nation, we might as well work together and share what is positive amongst us – Ada’s spirit and this time not just for first daughters but for all Nigeria women.