“I’d like to be an Economist” She said.
“Really, after who?”
“Like the Finance Minister.” She replied
Then changed her tone, “Or like a manager”
Okay, I wasn’t trying to discourage, I just didn’t realise she pays attention to the news, that’s all. To have a dream, any dream that means leading a happy and independent life is incredible.
I knew we must get to work making sure she has the right subject combinations for the final year exams.
Then my niece whom I knew is aware of so many things around her but say little asked about the extent of gender inequality especially in work place, she wanted to know what her chances of having her dream job were.
I can only say she could achieve whatever she sets her mind to. Given Nigeria situation, gender inequality is very common both at home and in society, she will need to make hard choice of either being a happy person or the good girl.
In the south of Nigeria, most children have equal access to education regardless of gender but that does not equate to equal job opportunity for both sexes.
A simple but clear example I gave was that of her church.
My parents attend Pentecostal church – the traditional type that has Code of Conduct behind the hymn book, instructing members on things about church that are or are not acceptable to discuss at home (always laugh at that one).
Drum sets, keyboard and guitar are the main instruments and for most boys it is like rite of passage to learn how to play. As a teenager, I asked if I could learn – that was for boys I was told, shrugged my shoulders and walked off.
Over a decade later, my niece, who was good enough to be in the church choir, smart enough to memorise bible verses but when asked if she could join the boys to learn any of the musical instruments, she was told – that’s for the boys.
I knew that would be the response so she joined a group doing private tuition on keyboard.
My sister attends a church under the same umbrella but in a different town where all youths were encouraged to learn musical instrument available at the church – before long they were proud of their achievements and fill in appropriately to play during church services.
As it is common with many of these churches, the forward thinking pastor was transferred so now they have a new senior pastor – An Apostle.
The Apostle arrived with his own very idea of how the church should be run – banned female youths from playing instruments except tambourine. Uproar in the church but Apostle has the last word.
So to my niece I say – at home she’ll be encouraged to aim higher and that nothing is too much to aim for as long as she keeps working towards it because even if one didn’t have it all – with contentment, one is one step closer.
As a Christian, many decisions will have to be made. The likes of the Apostle is way too many in our society, they’d undermine not for any other reason but your gender – one needs to find a way to switch off when the likes of Apostle are on because they will never change.
There is a reason for International Women’s Day.