Octagon Rooms

The Gender Equality Question

Posted on: August 1st, 2016 by The Moderator 3 Comments

Titilope: had a conversation with a lady once about whether or not the glass ceiling exists. And her response was that if women dressed appropriately to work and didn’t expect to move ahead because of their charms there would be no glass ceiling. I died.

The Octagon: So, there is a vague definition of gender roles…Let’s bring it down to personal examples maybe ? It’s Thursday evening and a meeting has been scheduled for 9pm at Ikoyi Club. It’s a Suya and Beer type of meeting. John and Jones at the office are attending this important meeting, and Janice is excluded because she’s female. This is the daily life of some women.  If Janice pushes to attend, she has to deal with 1. The guys at Ikoyi club assuming she’s indecent because she’s there so late. 2. Her Family and friends saying she shouldnt attend such meetings 3. If anything happens to her while out, society will say she shouldn’t have been there ‘doesn’t she know she’s a woman.’  … 4. Here’s the thing, all the major decision making meetings, that lead to promotions are made here.

Titilope: The fact that a woman has to think about these things before going out for drinks with her co workers is a problem. If we have reached this utopia of gender equality then why can’t she go? Why can’t she call her husband and say I’m going to be out late. Why is she doing complex emotional mathematics because of an evening out? It makes no sense.

Wakeji: In some ways, those things are symptomatic of wider society  problems such as security, etc. Again, why can’t she demand a rescheduling of the meeting? It may be difficult, but it is possible – The art of negotiation. The problem is that, such difficulties point to the inequality women do indeed experience.

Ihotu: I have dealt with a similar issue and I didn’t hangout with the guys because I felt it was an inappropriate environment and time too. But I still got selected to lead the team when the opportunity came because I delivered on the job and I found other ways to make time with me, interesting for my colleagues. Its tricky when the “you’re a woman” situation is pushed at you, but smile and get the job done. There is no need to argue about your gender. Wherever the woman finds herself just excel and the walls of whatever prejudice faced will begin to crack and eventually fall. Women have been blessed with the ability to multitask and the gift of intuition. so what ever role it is; leader, colleague, wife, mother etc bringing in these 2 things will ensure excellence. If we can be unrelenting but balanced this gender equality issue will begin gradually fade away.

Wakeji: That’s why I will stand by “each one,  BE one.” Because each woman knows her unique circumstances  and how to maximize them. There are women who did not have formal education, but made efforts to break out of the box society and gender roles placed them in.

Nimah: I am a firm believer of letting people’s strength and ability determine what they can do. People should not segregate others based on their gender. Today, we celebrate the Maya Angelous and Oprah Winfreys of this world for that same reason. They decided to just BE!

Blessing: Women can have a voice, women can lead, women can deliver on their own terms.

Titilope: The more examples of those women we see the more empowered we become. I agree. But part of the reason why we circle this conversation so often is because people do not even want to start by acknowledging the challenges that do exist. It is because Maya Angelou and Oprah exceeded expectations that we celebrate them today. Had they not shared their own struggles and how they overcame them we could pretend that they were just fortunate, which is not the case. Women have incredible gifts. That is undeniable. I’m continually inspired by our resilience and our power.

Wakeji: In reality, this is a struggle that women all over the world have experienced, regardless of their economic backgrounds.

Blessing: I don’t spend energy thinking about what the men in my group are doing. What I try to instill in my 7year old daughter is to focus on giving her personal best and that goes for every girl out there. Let your work (not your noise or complaints about gender equality) speak for itself. Then and only then will you receive the respect and recognition of your peers, men or women. I also believe that young girls need to be taught at an earlier age to speak up, not in a rude or bossy way because no one has time for “an attitude” but in a genuine way that contributes to the conversation at hand. Be it in a forum, school, work environment. We need to teach girls to embrace their thoughts and speak the truth to their environment .

Venya: It starts from me-it starts from you, ‘and the cloud of witnesses’ will follow suit

The Octagon: We will be ending this conversation in 5 mins. Can we all share some last points? Thank you.

Nimah: Gender equality and equity is achievable.

Ihotu: Be your best self and the world will recognize and applaud!

Venya: Let’s keep moving…together the society will have a balance!

Titilope: I think you can simultaneously be excellent and be concerned about the equality of the sexes. I think you can simultaneously exceed expectations and help others do the same. The more examples that exist of women doing incredible things, the easier it is for young girls to visualize themselves doing the same. There’s lots of work to be done, but there are already so many incredible examples of people doing transformative work in each of their arenas. That’s exciting.

Blessing: Gender equality is more than a goal in itself, it is a precondition for a better society. A society that balances the voice and contribution of both sexes becomes better and stronger in terms of economy, good governance and sustainability.

Jake: I mentor 4 young girls and they don’t care about what tradition says about being a girl. They don’t want to be morally right or in check. They don’t care. They disrupt the system. They determine what they want for themselves and go by it. They damn the consequences and they are succeeding in all their endeavors. One is an athlete.  What makes me even prouder is that they do all of these not copying or modeling male definitions.

The Octagon: Thank you all so much for taking time out to be on the octagon.

 

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3 Responses

  1. Eddy Ehijie says:

    I think we should first define gender equality before really knowing what this discourse is all about. Though I partly share the opinion of ooni’s wife I also believe nobody should be limited or restricted in their good choice in life.

    Let me state here that there’s nothing like gender equality hence we were crested male and female. So gender isn’t equal and it can never be, this is where I share Her Majesty’s view. Woman is made a woman, man is made a man. I need the definition to know what needed to be equal/what isn’t equal.

    The traditions/cultures were here when Mrs kuti etc what they needed to do in life. I see someone crying about gender equality as confused – don’t know what to do.

    We should address our problems rather than creating more problems.

  2. Oshomha says:

    People, men especially need to be taught how to identify and deal with it. In primary and secondary school boys are told to be ashamed of themselves if it’s girls topping the class. It starts from a very tender age so that when we grow up we unwittingly become misogynistic. It is even so sad that many times you meet a lady who is conditioned to think this way, some acts of civility from a man get perceived as weak. As for how it affects men, a man is generally thought of as one who has a choice and doesn’t really have to try to prove himself even if he was to become a hair stylist or nurse. And it’s only one half of society he really needs to deal with – his fellow men. But that against the woman is much more oppressive. It starts from families. I consider myself fortunate that I grew up in a house with sisters who always brought better results home than me so I learnt early that there was no added advantage in being a man lol. It’s a conversation that must continue because it wouldn’t just blow off.

  3. Chile says:

    More often than not, we hear that “all fingers aren’t EQUAL.” Take away the thumb however, and you’d see how difficult it is doin stuff without it. When we see that as man and woman/ woman and man (either way) we complete ourselves, only then would we appreciate our differences; because apparently we are not the same. Women don’t spermatize and men don’t conceive.

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