The real cost of gender inequality


A few days ago, I wrote about my disappointment with the Nigerian Senate as the news emerged that the proposed Gender Equality Bill did not make it to the second hearing and was thrown out of the Senate. You can read of my woes here.

Meanwhile, in the darker recesses of social media, there was a post by a woman, something to the tone of:

Why would any woman yearns to be equal with her husband? Personally, I wouldn’t dream of being equal to my husband… I don’t ever want to be equal to him….As my husband, he is the captain of our home. He is my master. My oga. My earthly authority. Therefore, I take instructions from him. I have no intention of challenging his authority over me outside outside our bedroom….He is the head of our family. And I am the neck!

It is a free world where any woman who wishes to attain any height can achieve it if she follows the necessary procedure. Nigeria is blessed with married women who inside their husbands’ homes have achieved enviable positions.

Hian. Head and neck kwa? Gender equality has now turned to biology class? Which one is anatomy? Why do Nigerians that fight equality and women’s liberation always reduce it to a battle of the home front? A war on who will make egusi or who will change nappies?

Needless to say, here come the male maggots from every hole you can think of:

“Don’t mind them jare, my dear sister! You’re a good woman. A virtuous woman! A Proverbs 31 wife! God bless you jare!”

“Gender inequality? Who held them back??”

“The Bible clearly states that…”

And my personal favourite: “It’s only single and frustrated women who are interested in this nonsense! After they have shared their vaginas to every man, they will now be looking for one dirty equality!”

Sigh. I had no choice but to accept that we still had a long way to go and that as long as supposedly intelligent women kept giving men a pass to subjugate women, then our fight was two-fold and twice as wearying.

And then I came across a Facebook post that describes more eloquently than I could have exactly what the fight for gender equality was about. A friend wrote this about the ordeal at the Nigeria High Commission in the UK when trying to renew the passports for his children:

So apparently, my children cannot renew their Nigerian passports without a letter from their father authorising it. Even though their mother is right there with them.

Just like when we got married, and I had to write a letter giving my wife permission to get a passport (or was it permission to use my surname, I don’t recall) .

But hey. Who needs gender equality?

This is what the fight is about. That a mother’s right over her child is not the same. That a husband’s permission is needed to get a passport. That the husband would not have been required to seek permission from his wife for his children’s passports if he had been the one to go to the embassy.

And yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg where inequality is concerned. Everyday, women are told that they’re not good enough; that they cannot make decisions on their own; that they cannot and should not have the same rights as their male counterparts.

And the tragedy is that women jump up in support of this travesty.

We really must do better.

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  1. When it comes to the passport issue that is pretty much norm in any society. It is meant to guard against child abduction. A man cannot do the same without consent from the mother. Here both parents either present themselves or the absent parent signs an affidavit authorising the other party to obtain travel documents or you present a death certificate or any document that proves you have sole custody.

  2. I asked before posting, Rachael. Sadly, the opposite isn’t necessary for the Nigerian High Commission here if the husband comes with the child(ren) in the absence of the mum.

    I do stand to be corrected sha :/

  • I guess they each choose to implement the rules differently. I know one case here many years ago (not applicable to other thousand cases though) where the wife had to be physically present or write a letter

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