By Moses Nosike
Atinuke Babatunde is a graduate from the University of Ilorin with a second class upper 1st degree in Botany and an MSc degree from the University of Lagos. She also holds an MBA from the prestigious Lagos Business School. She has over 18 years work experience spanning across Media/Marketing, Telecommunications and the Entertainment industry. She teaches SMEs on Strategic Business insights to help build and grow their businesses.
In this interview with Nosike Moses, she stresses the need to empower more women in the society and grant them more opportunities like men to do exploit since some of the women are bread winners in their families. Excerpts:
What is your take on women empowerment and the Nigerian society?
I believe women are becoming more aware of their role in the Nigerian society and are beginning to sit at the table. Even though statistics show that men are more likely to get educated more than women, the society is beginning to realise more and more of the need to empower the women and we hope to see a positive trend in the near future.
Today, we are seeing more women becoming bread winners in their families, what can be responsible for this?
It is quite simple. The current economic situation in the country no longer allows for a single income or for the woman to sit back and watch. A lot of women are beginning to own their space by getting more trainings, getting more educated and showing up more at the work place. Consequently, they are beginning to get those opportunities that used to be the preserve of their menfolk. Similarly, a lot of organisations are beginning to realise that a woman in the helm of affairs somehow adds value to their organisations. They are, therefore, getting more and more opportunities that position them in terms of income power and so we see this sudden rise of women becoming bread winners in their families. In addition, a lot of women are developing more entrepreneurial skills sometimes in addition to a full career and this also helps in adding to their income power, thereby positioning them as bread winners in their homes.
Some cultures don’t encourage the training of women, is this right?
There is absolutely everything wrong with this. There is an African proverb that says: “if you educate a boy, you educate an individual, but if you educate a girl, you educate a community”. Another proverb says: “Train a woman and you train a generation”. While the education of both a male and a female child is important, women are more natural care givers and they are likely to naturally pass whatever they have in them to the next generation. When a female child is trained, it means that there is the likelihood that she will train her children, thereby empowering both herself and the children. Statistics show that while women work two thirds of the man-hour in the world, only 10% of the world’s income comes to them. A culture that refuses to train its female children, will continue to worsen the situation of the female gender and continues to add to the 70% of the world’s one billion people who live in poverty and this is represented by women.
As a woman, what are those challenges confronting women in the society today?
The challenges are many and they have been discussed over the years. They range from the gender disparity, to inequality challenges being faced in the society. There is also the issue of having to constantly prove that you are equal or even better than your male counterpart just because you are female. Some of the challenges also include cultural stereotypes that have existed for years and are difficult to erase.
What is your advice to Nigerian women?
I will advise the Nigerian women to continue to be strong. I advise that they continue to break barriers and hold their heads shoulder high. That they should continue to push the envelope and not be discouraged by the stereotypes that exist in the society. Most importantly, I will advise that the Nigerian women be present at the table. That they get involved in matters of society and things that would affect their lives as citizens of this country in particular and the world in general.
A lot of female teenagers are still on the streets hawking, thereby attracting rape, what is your position on this?
This particular trend is not peculiar to Nigeria. Due to the economic situation across the world, there arises the need for every household to source for additional income to sustain the day-to-day activities in their families. Unfortunately, the girl-child is seen as the one that can easily be sent to the street because it is believed that the prerogative of hawking/domestic chores lies mainly with the female child. While it may be difficult to say households should not source for additional income, I believe strongly that parents and guardians should be educated on the dangers of exposing their female teenagers to become preys of unscrupulous people. The female child should be trained and exposed to education (either formal or informal) to help empower her and prepare her for the future instead of being used to hawk on the streets. This becomes even more imperative with the growing trend of violence and other crimes and criminality against the the girl-child on the street in the society.