Due to the perceptions and traditions of the Nigerian society, the understanding of the versatile fact that a woman is the major agent of life has been solely underestimated and limited to child bearing in the home. This was why women were being made to sit at the back, household only and watch.
Women being the society acclaimed ‘weaker vessels’ were not given major opportunities in Nigeria. They were seen as species that couldn’t handle anything else save the non-monetary areas like child bearing and domestic labour. Anyone that understood the scenarios played in the powerful sentence ‘Women are the major agents of life’ would acknowledge that these intellectual beings give life to whatever they are involved in. That is, they are the primary human reservoir of the society. But, a whole lot has changed on gender discrimination since Nigeria gained her independence.
The rise of Nigerian women has been quite progressive with small effective and gradual changes, taking place to develop the Nigerian society. The strong willed nature of the women in Nigeria who decided to evolve along with the world, broke grounds, almost wiping away the traditional perceptions of the Nigerian society and giving the women most equal opportunities as the men.
Unique and outstanding as they say, we look at prominent women in the Nigerian society whose achievements, courage and praise worthy exertions gave the female gender a surge of hope to also conquer in almost all the areas men ruled.
First, let’s look at the political aspect. From the time of independence, women started speaking up a bit, due to the rise of education in Nigeria.
But, majority of the Nigerian women still wallowed in fear and anxiety of what might happen if they happen to raise their voices where men dominated. They were scared of what the Nigerian society would be like if they were allowed to conmpete for certain positions with the men. Things were shaky at this time as women tried to find their voice.
During the second republic (1979 – 1983), Nigeria had her first senator, in person of Mrs Frances Afegbua. This woman oozed bravery to be able to pull that off, even with the pressure of being a loner in a field where there was the bulk of the male population. That was a really huge step taken to pave the way for women participation in Nigerian politics. Her sole involvement which seemed so small, made impact in the political aspect of the Nigerian society that in the fourth republic (1999 – 2004), Nigeria elected three female senators and fifteen female house of representatives into her political system.
That was it. More women started coming out to show they could contribute greatly to Nigerian development.
Secondly, looking at the history of Nigeria, women were not eligible to take part in any kind of sporting activities. Right after independence, the male gender were still given sole opportunities to participate in various sporting activities. Maybe, women were still seen as weak and domestic, who knows?
Although, a long time after independence, a Nigeria woman in the person of Chioma Ajunwa decided to take up the mantle and make history in the area of sports for women. She was the first black woman African woman to clinch a gold medal in the Athletics Olympics.
She was also the first Nigerian woman to take part in football matches. She laid out the grasses for other women that were capable of making earth shattering chronicles and fulfilling dreams in the area of sports.
Today, Nigeria has won several medals in the athletics Olympic games and cups in both track and field events in the world. Nigeria has also erected training centres for the upcoming sports women to support and guide them through their journey.
Talking about sport women stars in Nigeria, we have the likes of Ordega, Oshoala doing great things in women’s football, Blessing Okagbare in Athletics and Oshonaike in table tennis. These women created and are still carving a niche for themselves in African women sports and the world at large.
Furthermore, women did the unthinkable during the civilized tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Nigerian women headed what I termed ‘the danger zones of Nigerian political system’. They led the most sensitive parts of the society. The likes of Late Dora Akunyili, the renowned pharmacist who worked her way to the top of NAFDAC and also became a senator, collating more than 900 awards to her name and Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the renowned economist who took Nigeria to international levels when she worked her way to the top in IMF, world bank and other economic institutes. She also became a minister in the Nigerian political system.
These women amongst others, incurred mouth watering and knee bending accomplishments, giving more strength, power and hope to Nigerian women and served as models for others to follow. These fulfilled twenty-first century achievers has taken Nigeria to a point where women have equal chances with men.
Even when there are still loopholes when it comes to gender equality in Nigeria because of domestication, Nigerian women have gotten to the point where the progress they have gotten cannot be taken away from them. They will keep rising.
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