By Isaac Asabor
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English succinctly defines misogynist as “hater of women”. There is no denying the fact that many misogynists have been waging several wars and equally campaigning against women’s freedom, emancipation and empowerment.
A misogynist does not believe that women should be given formal education beyond the secondary school level. He does not believe that a woman should inherit the property of her late husband. He equally does not believe that women should work in offices or engage in other businesses. Rather, he is often driving his point home on why women should remain in the kitchen and be absolutely domesticated. He does not even think of anything good on women sexual life. It is therefore not surprising that he has remained an ardent crusader of women circumcision. However, contrary to the retrogressive mindsets of misogynists in Nigeria towards the education and training of the of the girl-child, Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Queen’s School, Enugu, St. Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan, and the International School Ibadan by virtue of her educated parents. She arrived in the US in 1973 as a teenager to study at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an AB in Economics in 1976. In 1981, she earned her PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a thesis titled Credit policy, rural financial markets, and Nigeria’s agricultural development. She received an international fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) that supported her doctoral studies.
On the traffic, a misogynist is naturally disgusted seeing women driving cars. To him, all women on steering wheel are bad drivers. When he sees any woman arguing with a man he would sigh and instantly mutter in Pidgin English, “I know say na woman, e no go gree” without having any understanding of the issue been argued upon. A misogynist, for instance, shares the notion that women police are unforgiving and that they do not accept bribe. By extension, all women security agents are seen as wicked, unforgiving and uncompromising. But today, with the global status which Okonjo-Iweala has attained, contrary to the expectations of misogynists in this part of the world, she has in decades past understood the dynamics of driving so much so that today, it would not be wrong to say that she is in position to ride fleet of cars with drivers, stewards, cooks, official attachés and dozens of drivers running head over heels at her beck and call. Against the foregoing backdrop, permit me to say shame to the misogynist that says women are not to be educated beyond the kitchen and laundry room.
It is germane to say that this article identifies gender bias against female children and youths. Gender bias is based on centuries-old cultural beliefs and sayings from ancient times. Discrimination is reflected in denial or ignorance of female children’s educational, health, nutrition, and recreational needs. Female infanticide and selective abortion of female fetuses are other forms of discrimination. The task of eliminating or reducing gender bias will involve legal, developmental, political, and administrative measures. As God would have it, Okonjo-Iweala’s unprecedented success in her career has no doubt created a more convincing awareness on the need for misogynists to resort to educating the girl-child and begin to value them more than ever before. With epic breakthrough in global leadership, there is need to reorient the education and health systems and to advocate for gender equality.
In as much as there has been significant progress in girls’ education, it will not be wrong in this context to say that not every girl is able to be educated to expectation. With Okonjo-Iweala’s earth-shaking appointment, parents should come to the realization of the fact that a girl-child’s education is vital as it gives them the knowledge and skills they require. These are reasons why a girl should be educated:
Misogynists should learn from the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala to a global trade organization that educating the girl-child can lead to the education of a generation. There is no denying the fact that by sending a girl to school that she is more likely to send her children to school. An African proverb says, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”
Again, educating the girl-child increases Involvement in Political Processes as educated women are more likely to participate in political discussions, meetings, and decision-making, which in turn promotes more representation in government. Catharine Drew Gilpin Faust, an American historian who was the 28th President of Harvard University, and the first woman to serve in that role says “We educate women because it is smart. We educate women because it changes the world.” Without sounding panegyric Okonjo-Iweala has through her appointment buttressed all the foregoing facts. So, all misogynists should collectively hide their face in shame.
While brooding in shame, they should be told that educating the girl-child leads to improvement in socioeconomic growth as educated women have a greater chance in avoiding poverty, they are observed to lead a healthy life and have a good standard of living for their children, families and communities. “To educate girls is to reduce poverty”, says Kofi Annan.
There are still many more reasons why a girl should be educated. For every boy that is educated, every girl should be educated too. To conclude, Angelina Jolie said, “There is no greater pillar of stability than a strong, free and educated woman.”
Without any iota of equivocation, the society in general is misunderstanding womankind, and this has become a collective stumbling block on women’s path to progress.
This writer is a man. I know you may have asked, “What is this writer’s stress?” The plight of women is the plight of all of us since we all have daughters, wives, sisters, aunts and mothers. Somebody has to speak for them or add voice to the already sounding voices of various women-focused non-governmental organizations that are at the moment working round the clock to address the gender-issue of women.
The discrimination against the woman by the misogynist is so pervasive that it is at the moment negatively reflecting on the proportion of women holding political offices across various tiers of government in our country. The majority of the women that are today holding various political offices were appointed, and not elected.
If a woman is married to a man from a different state of origin, she would automatically find herself in a dilemma. She cannot easily declare her intention to run for any elective political position within the political constituencies of her husband as she would be rejected by her in-laws who are invariably misogynists on the ground that she is not a direct indigene or “daughter of the soil”. On the other hand, her relations would also reject her from vying for any political office in her own fatherland for the mere fact that she is married to a non-indigene.
The foregoing summarizes one of the biggest political problems women are today facing. I suggest this issue should be constitutionally addressed to protect women from being marginalized in this democratic dispensation.
One may not be wrong to say that a misogynist regards women as “pseudo-human”. If he does not regard them as such, one would then ask; why is it that anything that has to do with women often become storm in his tea cup?
It is common to see fathers who are misogynists, and who are supposed to be in a happy mood looking very sad at maternity wards because their wives had given birth to baby girls. Some years back, a man was reported in the news to have killed his wife in the northern part of the country for giving birth to a baby girl. Also, when a couple could not bear children of their own, the infertility problem is unjustly and unfairly attributed to the wife, even as family members pressurize the man to take a second wife in anticipation of giving him a baby boy.
The reason for writing this piece is to appeal to misogynists to renew their minds towards women by giving them a chance to succeed in every ramifications of life. They should not be always seen as inferior. At least, they are witnesses to the showers of blessings that God used Okonjo-Iweala to pour on Nigeria, and Nigerians at home and in diaspora. Also, misogynists should try as much as possible to begin to bequeath the best education they can afford to their girl-child. They should eschew discriminating against the female gender. Otherwise, they should bury their heads in shame.
There is no difference between a man and a woman. God created them to complement each other while on earth. To reiteratively put it again, misogynists should with the monumental breakthrough of Okonjo-Iweala bury their heads in shame.