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Askawayhealth Interview IWD2019 – #BalanceForBetterNaija Part 2

March 18, 2019

The focus of gender equality in Nigeria marks the #BalanceForBetterNaija theme for International Women’s Day in 2019.

In the first part of this article, we shared the IWD2019 tweetchat with Wendy Wokoma of GesamtHealthcare hosted by AskAwayHealth founder Dr Sylvia Kama-Kieghe. The discussion continues below.

How Culture shapes Gender Equality Ideas

Q3. Can you describe the *experience* of a girl child growing up in most Nigerian families?

“The girls are often prepared from birth to be the ‘perfect wife’. It isn’t entirely bad until that is done at the expense of her pursuing her dreams as though she has no unique skills and talents to impact her world. Then certainly we need to #BalanceForBetterNaija.”

“Sometimes an outspoken girl is chided to ‘be quiet’ because ‘women are not supposed to be loud’ or hold strong views. Thankfully in recent times, we have seen some giant strides in changing this narrative.”

I love the way you’ve described that; I’m sure many women will identify. Following on from that response:

Q4. Do you think girls and boys have the same opportunities at home and in school in Nigeria?

“Well, in recent times, I think there has been some improvement. Issues such as the Child Bride in some cultures need to be addressed as these young girls are deprived of education which makes them economically disadvantaged and puts their sexual and reproductive health at risk too.”

Ok!  So let’s turn to how these attitudes developed:

How Silent Bias Promotes Gender (In)Equality

Q5. Do you think there is a silent bias against women in our traditional /religious beliefs; and practices in Nigeria that preserve a paternalistic culture?

“Yes, definitely there is and unfortunately this limiting mindset has been passed on – even by women themselves – to the next generation in some cases. For example, in some cultures, domestic abuse isn’t seen as a big deal or even the fault of the woman!”

“Even rape victims are hushed and sometimes blamed when they are to be protected and perpetrators made to face justice. Finally, it’s important that our traditional and religious leaders speak up for #BalanceForBetterNaija.”

These are key areas you’ve highlighted and important for us to realise how deep-seated the issues are. But to progress, we must address them. In Nigeria, the ratio of men to women is about 1:1. Yet women hardly feature in key decision making roles esp in the public sector. President, Chief Justice, Governor, Senate President. How many have been women?! None. But to our last question:

Q7. In what ways can we gender-balance for transformational leadership at all levels and to leverage the huge potential of diversity in our country and evolve Nigeria faster towards a more successful country?

“At home, parents should not create stereotypes in the minds of the kids. Everyone eats and creates a mess in the house but why should it be the responsibility of only females to cook or clean?” 

“Both genders should be encouraged to aspire and BE all they can be even at school. Girls should be encouraged to develop themselves because they are unique, different from boys but NO LESS talented and skilled”.

“Finally, the role of mentors cannot be overemphasized! Both women and men in leadership roles should mentor upcoming female talents and create an enabling environment for them to thrive – void of sexual harassment and disrespect.”

Wendy Wokoma, Thank you for those ideas!  Simple, but practical and EVERYONE can adopt.


“So we are done for tonight!

Of course, the conversation doesn’t end here. We know that gender inequality affects a woman’s economic state and impacts her health.

If women do not have fair representation in decision making, how will we meet our needs?

It’s important to note that gender equality does NOT disrespect any man – rather it allows for harnessing the potential in women for the benefit of all.”

And so, this is how the IWD2019 Campaign Day ends – but the discussion and progress continues.

We hope this message continues to echo in our communities from the grassroots to the corridors of power – so that the changes we need can start and allow us to progress to a successful and thriving nation.

What about you? What do you think about Gender Equality? As usual, we love to hear your thoughts – please comment below.

More Reading

Editing By AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care.

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

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