February 21, 2013
The Nigerian woman, traditionally, has faced innumerable biases. The Nigerian society instead of egging her forward has held her back by holding on to age old practices in the name of tradition. With gender equality an illusion, the only field these women are seen working beside men in equal numbers if not more, is labor, and that too mostly agricultural.
For a society that is developing, education is one of the most important pillars that its future will rest on. And this does not mean just the education of men, but women too. Nigerian culture supports the idea that woman belong in the home. If they are educated they will want to work and then they will consider themselves at par with men and eventually lose interest in all motherly and wifely duties. For this reason a large number of Nigerian girls have been forced to drop out of school and many are not allowed to attend adult education classes.
That the north and the south are almost equally divided into Islamic and Christian populations hasn’t shown a huge difference in the way women are treated. Often a part of a polygamous household, she has no identity of her own. She is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s sister, somebody’s wife, somebody’s mother. The need for the woman to be her own person has hardly ever been encouraged.
Education is essential for women in this country, a country where extremists shoot at mothers and their babies who go to polio camps, because these gun wielding people know no better than to believe that polio is a western evil that will harm the women and children.
Women who are a part of traditional Nigerian culture, it seems, will be able to benefit from education programmes offered via distance learning modules. If married young with children, they are often not permitted to join the workforce. In this case if the mother acquires an education while at home she will not only be equipped to tutor and mentor her children, both boys and girls, but also be able to avail work from home opportunities. In this way, without clashing with cultural beliefs, she will be able to empower herself.
The First Lady of Nigeria, Dame Patience Jonathan, when speaking on education at Abuja on 3rd February 2013, said, “Education is a tool that can free our citizens, especially women and children, from the shackles of poverty.” She added, “It is important to note that the church should not relegate women to the background, but ensure they are given equal opportunities to work with their menfolk in the Lord’s vineyard.”
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