Welcome to The Octagon
The Octagon: Let’s begin with introductions. Please let us know who you are and what you do. After that we will go into the conversation.
Wakeji: My name is Wakeji, officially known as Mary W. Gani. I’m a lawyer/academic/creative writer who is currently on a foray into communications. I manage the communications desk for an international charity.
Titilope: My name is Titilope Sonuga. I’m a performance poet, writer & actor. I’m Intel’s She Will Connect ambassador for Nigeria.
Jibril: Hello all my name is Jibril a civil servant and academic.
Ihotu: I’m Ihotu Amuta, I am an idea strategist and enterprise educator. I run a company called The Scratch Board focused on business strategy, startup incubation and organisational design. I also run Jewels Network aimed at women’s enhancement. I write, I speak and I mentor kids in Secondary school
Nimah: Hiya, I’m Nimah Arigbabu currently Studying politics and security. I worked as a project manager with an NGO prior to my current study.
Venya: Hey everyone, Im Ven Lannap, a passionate individual that hates any form of injustice. Lead at Bo SITA MADE, a youth developmental ngo that is active in the fight against sex trafficking and the Director of Before and After School Academy, Jos
Jake: Jake Okechukwu Effoduh, I Have Been A Human Rights Lawyer For 6 Years And A National Radio Presenter For A Decade Now.
Blessing: My name is Blessing Oyeleye. I am a Chemical Engineer and Global Energy Consultant. I am a working mother and try to find balance at home and at work.
The Octagon: The lines between what is feminine and what is masculine are drawn from birth. Little girls are wrapped in pink blankets and little boys in blue. Treating men and women as different is so intrinsic to Global Culture that most of us think nothing of it. While in developed countries it often takes the form of unequal pay, glass ceilings and lack of childcare provisions, in developing countries it’s evident in the tradition of child marriage, female infanticide, female genital mutilation and barriers to education for girls.
The Ooni of Ife’s wife recently said “The modern pattern of feminism has succeeded in limiting women of the heights they could reach; gender equality is unrealistic. We can never be equal with men, we are here for a great purpose, we have our roles to play we are powerful and we are a force of nature. Relationships are suffering today, because women want to be men”
To what extent do you think that the educational system tries to push (or unconsciously pushes) people into traditionally “female” and “male” roles? Do you think women really get the ‘short end of the stick’ in Society, or is this a Myth ? Finally, Is Gender Equality Possible ?
Jake: Gender equality is feasible. It has happened; is happening; and will happen if we make it happen. Women will soon stop demanding quotas and will dictate what they want. They will not matter if they are 10% or 40% but will ensure that whoever is representing them In every level is mindful of their interest 100%. The Ooni’s wife spoke for herself. She can’t speak for women. So I need not reply her, or comment on her statement.
Ihotu: I think the concept of gender equality has been misrepresented in societal discuss. I do not completely agree with the Ooni’s wife but I understand her perspective. Women can do what men can but should they? Every society will evolve into gender equity or equality at different times based on its exposure.
Titilope: I don’t think it’s so simple. If it were happening we wouldn’t still be having this conversation. Being a feminist or demanding gender equality does not equate a woman wanting to be a man. The comment from the Ooni’s wife (who we should actually be calling by her own name) illustrates that people don’t actually understand the importance of gender equality and do not see the subtle ways we consistently relegate women in our society.
Wakeji: I’ve heard it said that equity and equality are different concepts. This may be just semantics, but the different words may be useful for the purpose of context. The comments by the Ooni’s wife may have been made on the basis of her concern for certain societal norms that she considers to have been eroded. The question, in my mind, is whether some of those norms are incompatible with gender equality. Some of these norms may be childcare and home making. The way I see it, gender equality, and these norms that people feel are being eroded are certainly not incompatible.
Venya: Hmm…interesting, each of the gender has a unique role to play, respecting that is what would give balance to the society. God created man and woman to give that balance undertaking that is what ‘equality’ in gender should be. And, most people’s opinions are mostly contextual, so I can understand with Ooni’s wife.
Nimah: You see the problem with people like ooni’s wife is they are too ignorant to pick up a book. A lot of us have forgotten what roles feminism has played in our lives and how it has shaped our society. I don’t think she knows people like Efunsetan, Moremi, Oya, F. Ransom Kuti etc. Without these women we won’t be able to do the things other women see as ” basic things” if she wants to see what gender inequality is I suggest she sees what happens with the women in Saudi.
Ihotu: Even today I go for some management level meetings and there are less women in the room than men and some of the men try to shut you down or are condescending. Is that society’s fault or should every man take responsibility for his actions? Or are there women refusing to go past a level in their careers because of the assumed “gender” issues posed by society
The Octagon: For clarification purposes. Gender inequality swings both ways – affects men and women . So, for the men in the group – Society tells you that you can’t be “too emotional”, you need to achieve status by earning lots of money, resolve conflict with violence, choose mechanical and analytical jobs, etc. When a man decides he wants to be a Make up artist, he’s often viewed as Effeminate. This being said, the focus when Gender equality is being discussed is women (not so much men). Why do you think this is?