Women are women’s best friends. Or how else would you explain the turnout at #TheConversation with Temidayo Ahanmisi, Joy Isi Bewaji and OAP Biodun Stephen Oladigbo, despite the fuel scarcity that hit Lagos last week and spilled into the weekend?
It was an intimate gathering of women (and a few men) at Colonades Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos on Sunday, May 3, to discuss a variety of issues that affect women. The session took the shape of a community meeting with the panel and members of the audience contributing to the various points raised.
What really is gender equality? A Sheryl Sandberg quote was the first talking point: A truly equal world would be one where women ran half of our countries and companies and men ran half of our homes.
Speaking on this, Temidayo said she didn’t agree with the quote, that equality was more about having a choice whether you were in government, the corporate world or the home. “If you have a House with 20 men and 20 women and the decision is taken by just a few men in the House, that isn’t equality,” she said.
Another talking point was how successful women are perceived by society. Women who have made a success of their careers are very often referred to she-males, domineering or having ‘ironballs’, while their male counterparts get praised for being just as successful: as if success was a male prerogative.
The best part of #TheConversation was the stories: from women who had come out of abusive relationships and gone ahead to make happy lives for themselves; from women who had never had to deal with difficult situations and didn’t face discrimination in their day-to-day lives but still stepped out of their comfort zones to support other women; from married women, single women, young and not-so-young; the narratives spoke of strength and survival despite the tide of patriarchy that threatened to pull down any who refused to toe its line.
Religion was not left out of the discussion as it was generally agreed that it is one of the institutions that propagates patriarchy. Verses from the Bible that very often are used to subjugate women were read and analysed. It was encouraging to see realisation hit: women are to be honoured and treated as equals and not chattels or vassals.
How then is the malaise of gender inequality to be overcome? Education, of male and female children and young people. There is a need to break the hold of patriarchy that keeps turning up in new forms with each generation. Women need to look inward for validation, support each other and become economically empowered, as poverty is one thing that keeps the woman bound to situations she would otherwise not want to be in.
Season Two of #TheConversation will take place in the third quarter of 2015.
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