By Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor
It’s not easy to get people to see the blessings in their lives, but many ladies responded positively  to our view  that, even though there’s still room for a lot of improvement  in all areas of  the lives of Nigerian women, we also have reasons to celebrate emancipation on several fronts since independence                  .
Understandably, those who are convinced that we can raise our glasses and cheer, are the older ladies.

With most of the younger ones, it’s like, ‘ well, if you say so.’  But quite a few of them did say that their mum agreed with me that our women haven’t fared badly, but that we shouldn’t rest on our oars, but continue to fight for a better deal for the girl child right from birth.

Two male readers wrote to say that there’s nothing for our women to be cheerful about because, in the area of morals and raising kids, the Nigerian woman has scored zero.  They complained that young ladies are more interested in money now than ever before, and they are out to do anything to get rich.

‘Madam,’ said one of these two men, ‘I have a lot of respect for what you stand for in your media house, but I don’t agree with your recent view that women have fared very well since independence and they deserve to drink a toast to themselves.  What women are we talking about?  Those skimpily-dressed girls who are available to the highest male bidder?

Or the professional woman who neglects her home and children because she’s bent on climbing high in her place of work?  In my days, children returned home to find their mothers waiting for them at home.  These days, children either go to stay with a neighbour until the parents return, or, let themselves into the house, or, are received by the domestic help.

Any of these choices, you’ll agree, madam, can lead to children acquiring undesirable habits and values because their behaviour and movement are not being monitored by responsible adults.  Our women may have made progress in the academic fields and in worthy jobs and professions, but good morals and character are what build a nation, and since our women have failed in that role, they are contributing nothing to the strong fabric of the society.

Thanks madam.  Please publish this my view.  –   Chief F. Salako, Ibadan.’
Well, it is obvious that what this gentleman is driving at is that women should be full time housewives, or part-time workers, or have jobs which enables them to be at home when the kids return from school, but the reality is that most couples these days do need two pay packets in the home, and a part-time job may not really help meaningfully.  The man needs help in the home.

In fact, many young men will hesitate to take a bride who cannot contribute financially to the running of the home; unless she comes from a wealthy family and her family will help with money.

I don’t believe it’s a wife going out to work that will make the children to derail.  Working parents, who lead by example of honesty, integrity, hard work and a sense of responsibility, can raise very well-adjusted kids as they make it a point to monitor their kids closely and be their best friends.  Before independence, many women may not be office workers, but they helped financially in the home with farm work , petty trading and even travelling to neighbouring states to buy and sell.

The kids weren’t with them 24 hours a day.  There’s no way our kids can be with us all the time.

My sister Helen, thanks for that
write-up.  Yes, we haven’t done badly in several professions and positions, even when compared to the modern lady in some of the developed countries.   It’s all thanks to those parents who believe in the education of the girl-child.  Many young ladies in Europe believe that basic education up to the age of sixteen is okay for them, and they don’t see the need to go to the university.

They then go out to work, or train for a vocation.  Many of them still think it’s the man’s salary that should keep the home, so, they’re contented to be full time house-wives even where money is short, and they have to collect handouts from the government.  I’m so delighted that our young ladies here want as much high education as they’re capable of.  This is the way to go.  Thanks.  – Mama Peju, Ikeja.”

“Auntie, I’m in my mid-twenties and I knew nothing about how the life of the Nigerian woman was before or at independence.  However, when I showed your write-up to my mother, she told me that you’re right and that there’s been a lot of moving forward in the life of the Nigerian woman.

I’m amazed to read that many women then, because of their little or non-existent earning power, had to virtually grovel before their husbands before these latter would agree to pay school fees for their children!

That’s very ridiculous! Children bear their father’s names and belong to his family, why then should a man be begged to pay school fees for his own children, if he has the means?  I’m glad our men have become more enlightened now. – Miriam, Lokoja..”’

“Madam, I’d like to believe what you said about our women having better deals now than at Independence.  Life must have been pretty horrible for them in those days, as it seemed the men stripped them of all dignity.

A loving husband would want to showcase his prized property (his wife), by taking her out to events to which he had been invited.  How does taking a mistress out help his union?  What treat is he giving the woman he invited to share his life if she has to beg him to pay school fees, take her out, and perhaps a host of other things which a man should normally do for his wife?

If he dies, it would be the poor wife who would be asked to go perform terrible widowhood rites; not the mistress.  I’m glad that I’m not living in that era.  I’m newly married, and my husband assured me and my parents that he will always take good care of me, and treat me well.  If the relationship has to become that of ‘master and female servant’, I’m out the door, no matter the number of years I’ve spent in the union.

It’s the acceptance of ill-treatment by the women which makes men treat them badly at their places of work.  I think our mothers and grandmothers were too docile to their men.  Thanks ma.   –   Precious, Enugu.”

“Helen, I love that piece you wrote on the progress our women have made since independence.  I can testify that it’s true, and I find that encouraging.   What we should fight for now is equal pay for equal work.  It isn’t happening yet, and some organizations, particularly the private ones, don’t believe in having women in top positions. – Blessing, Lokoja.’‘

“Madam, yes, our ladies have come a long way and they should celebrate.  We’re doing the nation proud, even though we may not be appreciated.  I’m sorry to say that women are their own worst enemies.  They’re the ones keeping obnoxious widowhood rites alive by making sure that widows perform them.  The men may be those who ordered them in the olden days, but it’s the women who carry out the treatment.

What stops them telling the men that these rites should be abolished, and that they will no longer be used to inflict pain on their fellow women?’  – Nancy, Owerri.’‘
We thank all those who wrote in.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.