One of the major points of advocacy for the 2021 edition of the International Women’s Day, IWD 2021, was the call for gender parity. It was within the light of this year’s theme: #ChooseToChallenge. This year’s event was celebrated with pomp and pageantry by the various social, gender and human rights advocacy groups, and it provided the opportunity to assess the journey so far in the efforts to give women their due in society.
Giving the female constituents of our society their due simply means providing them with the same opportunities that are available to their male counterparts. It means that in the workplace, at the various levels of governance, leadership circles, political spheres, educational platforms and what have you, the number of females should not be less than that of the males as a result of the continuation of the cultural or religious obstacles that have impeded their development.
We must discard the age-old notion that the men are the “bread winners” and women the “home-makers” who should be denied their right to the highest possible educational and leadership attainment. The logic of “gender parity” is not meant to encourage mediocrity. It is pinioned on the proven fact that women will perform as well as the men (and sometimes even better) if given equal opportunities. It is also premised on the need to deliberately create opportunities to allow women demonstrate their capability to perform any task.
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The world has evolved from the ancient times when it took raw muscle power to attain heights, when might was right. It is the human intellect that now drives change and technological disruptions. The campaign for gender parity is aimed at repositioning our mental attitudes to realise that any society that keeps the other half of its population in shackles will always be the poorer for it. Years of (sometimes) unmerited occupancy of leadership positions have left the male section of society insufficiently challenged to give of their best. Societies have been forced to live with mediocre leaders whose main reason for leading is that they are of the male gender.
The time has come for a total rearrangement of this mental attitude. When we give women equal opportunities, it is still the family and the society that will reap the benefits. Situations in Nigeria where women are not even allowed to sign bail bonds at our police stations and unmarried female police officers who get pregnant lose their jobs are unconstitutional and unacceptable.
Even at the homesteads where women have been culturally relegated, they have proved their leadership qualities which in most cases overshadow those of the men. They must be allowed to bring their quality to the highest level of society’s leadership.