The Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary defines gender roles as “a set of behaviour pattern, attitudes and personality characteristics, stereotypically perceived as masculine or feminine within a culture.”

From time immemorial, the issue of gender roles and discrimination has held Africa and Africans down. The continuous restrictions, belief and rigid mindset on what a particular gender should do or should not do is most probably one of the reasons why this part of the world is still very backward and “allergic” to progress.

The fact that we still have to conform with bias and archaic rules even at the expense of our own happiness simply because it is considered a “social taboo” to be caught involving or participating in certain activities has no doubt been a big setback.

The African society is mainly patriachical in nature, giving more preference and relevance to the male gender, believing that they always have to be at the top of the chain and lead even when, in some cases, they don’t have what it takes to do so. It is safe to say that gender roles have done nothing but widen the horizon for continual discrimination  between both genders but time has seen many strong women fight against it and rise to the top even in male- dominated fields, in positions that would originally have been considered a taboo for them to occupy.

We talk of amazons like the late Dora Akunyili who was in charge of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the current Director General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO. Both have proven to the world that stereotypes are useless and needless, that a woman can achieve much more if she puts her mind to it.

We now live in modern times that have become somehow lenient but that doesn’t mean the reality has totally changed, the same mistake of unknowingly defining what  should or should not be done by a particular gender is still being made and repeated. An average girl-child may spend most of her day running the affairs of the house while the male child just sits and watch, believing it is solely her duty to do it. Sometimes she may also have to clean up after feeding him because he doesn’t see the need to do such a “womanly duty”.

It is still very hard for many of us not to discriminate and call certain duties “womanly” or “manly” sometimes not necessarily through words but through our actions as well even as we now claim to be learned and civilised. We are still believing women only should run the household and kitchen duties without help from the other gender, while men alone should pay the bills, do sports and go into politics which are few instances of discrimination.

No one will deny that male athletes are more favoured, known, celebrated and paid attention to much more than their female counterparts, and that there are very few women in the political scene. Also, finding a young man helping his wife with house chores or cooking might spark debates on his sanity as many will choose to believe he had been enchanted by diabolical powers.

This is as bad as women insisting that all the money needed to run the family must be from the men, even when the women are more fortunate or have better paying jobs. That is why some men go out of their ways to meet the needs of greedy and inconsiderate wives. This is why some men also suffer all manners of abuse when they are not able to provide for unreasonable wives. 

I strongly believe that the issue of gender roles and discrimination has led to many cases of domestic abuse and violence from the time of our forefathers. It has led to  subjugation and low self-esteem, especially among the female folk who are in most cases exposed to abuse and made to see it as the norm, as a part of womanhood which is wrong. There have also been cases of men getting domestically abused but women suffer more from the menace of gender-based abuse and violence.

 Reports have shown that one in every seven women and one in every 25 men have experience in violence from their spouses or partners in various forms – physical, emotional, physiologically and many other ways.

The society gives so much attention to training a girl-child because she has to make a wonderful wife and please her husband when she finally gets married but forgets or purposely ignores giving similar training to the male child on how to be an excellent husband to his future wife. This sick society still sees a woman as an object or property, not a companion and a partner that she should be.

The problems that gender roles have caused in our society cannot be overemphasised; it has produced mostly a bunch of superiority complexed males who will always feel high up there because they have been made to believe that it’s a “man’s” world. This terrible cycle may not stop any time soon because every coming generation learns to repeat it indirectly. They watch, learn, abide and repeat it while seeing no wrong because it is the way they see things being run.

Therefore, gender roles should be abolished. There should be no limitation or restriction to what an individual can do because of their gender and no one should be made to feel superior or inferior to another because of their gender, everyone is created equal and even the law recognises this. 

Domestic violence of any kind should be seen as an attack on human rights and a crime against humanity. It should be dealt with, with utmost seriousness by all and sundry. Apart from punishing the perpetrators and getting help for the victims, one of the underlying factors is gender roles and it should be abolished completely!  

According to the report, the total value of non-oil exports in the first half of the year, January to June 2022, was about $2.60 billion up 62.37 per cent from the respective $1.60 billion and $981.44 million recorded in the first halves of 2021 and 2020. This rebound should be sustained through giving of more incentives to exporters and targeted financing for export infrastructure.

The Export4Survival campaign by the NEPC introduced in February, should be sustained to raise public knowledge on opportunities in the industry and to emphasise the advantages of exporting Nigerian goods and services to boost our GDP and shared prosperity”, the LCCI President said.

In the same vein, the Chairman, Export Group of LCCI, Mrs. Bosun Solarin, who gave further insights into the discourse, admitted that the symposium was timely and coming up when Nigeria was in dire need of foreign exchange, and that the world was earnestly waiting to see the effective take-off of AfCFTA that is capable of elevating 30 million people out of abject poverty and generating market hub that would connect 1.3 billion people from 55 countries with US$3.4tn aggregate Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

She said the actualisation of the benefits of the legislation remains elusive without effective distribution channel in which logistics play an indispensable role of bridging the gap between the dreams and realities of AfCFTA. Mrs. Solarin informed that the presence of experts in the logistics industry, and captains of export business would make it possible do a critical examination of the role of logistics in AfCFTA from trajectories with insightful contributions for all participants. The chairman, while reiterating the fact that reliable transportation was critical to trade and development, tasked relevant stakeholders to put in place policies that would make Nigeria’s export very competitive. 

In summary, what we need to put in place to make AfCTA impactful include tapping from several programmes and opportunities at the regional, continental and international levels that exporters can benefit from such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as well as Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS); exporting of primary products to the global community with value addition; need for regulatory agencies to strengthen the means of communication, to close the information gap between the agencies and players; incorporation of communication plan and strategy for feedback and continuous interactions; promotion of digitisation and automation of processes and procedures; creation of more awareness; building of capacity of the public sector trade regulators; embracing Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model;  putting in place effective distribution channel whereby logistics play an indispensable role of bridging the gap between the dreams and realities of AfCFTA, among others.

Aisha is a Law student at the University of Abuja.


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