Being female in Nigeria

Being female in Nigeria need not be all negatives. As I grew older I realise amongst many derogatory comments I got thrown at me not for no other reason but for being a woman, the ones I am most affected by was from home – from father or close relatives.

Outside, I tend to stand up for myself as much as I can, sometimes when it’s not worth the effort, I hissed and moved on.

Last week a Lagos based book club inspired hashtag #beingfemaleinnigeria where ladies of all ages share their views of being talked down by their male friends just because they were female.

I used to be just be quiet when my father said something about women that were stereotypical as I thought he is ‘old school’, but these days, often I’d ask him “Is that the way you see me, daddy?” Over the years, I have seen positive changes in his utterances.

A pastor who is a family member once narrated stories of women in his church to be manipulative, dress provocatively all in the hope of seducing their pastors – they did this in order to bring the preachers ‘down’ as the women were possessed of evil spirits. When I asked if the same was true of his wife and daughters, he was offended because he knew he was making sweeping generalisation of women when he was only talking about one person.

We still have lengthy family talks but he is aware I’m no longer going to be quiet when he based his critics of women on a section of the bible.

In order to reduce sexist talk in our society, we need to start from our homes. Men in the workplace and place of worship are capable of changing right from inside their homes but if we continue to listen to them bringing other women down just for the fun of it, they will have no incentive of changing.

A reminder of their own mothers, sisters, wives and daughters would likely bring about positive change in behaviour.

Inspiring to hear people talking about sexism in Nigeria – as obvious as it is, we seldom talk about it in the way that any lesson is learned. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new dawn for us all.

Categories: Africa, Nigeria

Tags: ,

15 replies

  1. Fola, this Marie though from a blog created for my brother (ignore this long story)
    Ok, as for me, if there was only one man not born of a woman, then that one could at least make some remark. I rest my case at this level… to be continued later

    Liked by 1 person

    • True. You will even see many Nigerian and indeed African men talked about how much they loved their mothers because she was wise and all that jazz – but in reality leaders in our society did little to reflect the claim.


  2. I like the way you challenged/questioned your Dad. You’re lucky he is a reasonable man open to reason.

    Thank you for shedding light on this, for me it was a nice eye-opener – possibly due to the reason that on my visits to Nigeria, everyone was so officious and formal. One could never relax around adults for fear of being spied upon so that they can pick holes in one’s behaviour, and use that as fuel to say that ‘children brought up in England are no good!!!’

    The formality I experienced there extended to women too. I do recall my uncles making unflattering comments about people from other nationalities in Nigeria. Now I know it is incorrect to say or think such things I have ditched those thoughts.

    Your commentary shed light at how widely sexism is practised. In Britain they had the suffragettes who used a more forceful (not violent) approach to win women’s rights and respect in society. Nigeria due to cultural and religious practices has a far more softly softly (‘jeje’) approach which has led to women’s status being eroded as can be seen by the under-representation of women in high political office. Do you think a more upfront stance by women should be adopted, rather than quietly whispering amongst themselves? In Afghanistan, a direct bi-product of foreign military intervention was that more females were sent to school, and women are in government.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you jco.

      I completely agree with your line of thought that direct approach through women involvement in leadership roles is the best, perhaps by use of quotas.

      In the south, women are equally as educated as men but our public office does not reflect this – culture & religion?

      I think Afghanistan example would work in the north where they are predominantly Muslim – already lots of people are getting help and with the likes Emir of Kano advocating for girls education and need to eradicate child bride.

      Also because of our wide social class system – women in slightly well off areas are less likely to realise sexism affect us all – maybe military intervention across board would do us good.


  3. That is definitely the best approach because it works all the time – adding the women they love to the general list. Women themselves should also have more confidence in themselves and not allow any man fill their ears with loads of trash.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Fola,
    One thing that I always find interesting when you hear someone talk down about women is the biological fact that we all start out as female in utero. It is only later on that there is a differentiation and you either become a male or remain female.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Generalization hurts when it comes close to home.

    Little typo in the title.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Adejokeiyabadan's Blog and commented:
    In order to reduce sexist talk in our society, we need to start from our homes. Men in the workplace and place of worship are capable of changing right from inside their homes but if we continue to listen to them bringing other women down just for the fun of it, they will have no incentive of changing.

    Liked by 1 person

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