Women cannot lead, they say. How soon they forget that in pre-colonial Nigeria, women upheld leadership and political positions in society. Women-led then and women can lead now.
Awani is an eye-opener. I always knew that when allowed, women showed up, but this documentary gives me a whole new meaning of what that is as a girl growing up in Nigerian society.
When power was bestowed upon the men in the Victorian era, a patriarchal system was born. In some societies, women had more prominent roles than others, but one thing women had significant control over was the markets. As Ed Emeka Keazor rightly said, “by controlling the women, you control the markets.” A case in point as made in the documentary would be Omu Nwagboka of Onitsha who after she died in 1886, no other woman has been named the ‘Omu’ of Onitsha, and since then Onitsha has only had a male monarch.
In pre-colonial Northern Nigeria, you will see Queen Amina of Zaria as one of the women who upheld a leadership role as of 1576. The culture, traditions and dominant religion in Northern Nigeria did not allow women to take up their rightful roles in society.
Awani shows a few of the many women movements that took place. One thing all these movements had in common was the desire for mobilization. The women made sure to show up so that their voices were heard.
In present-day Nigeria, we have the case of the Gender Equality bill of 2016 that did not pass the second reading. Our culture and society see women having equal rights as something to be against due to the patriarchal system we operate. The mistake here is that women are not involved in decision making for our country.
Over the years, women and girls have been faced with sex trafficking, rape, assault and much more daily. The system that is so-called designed to protect us is what puts us in harm’s way.
In Nigeria, girls are told to wear a posture of inferiority. The Nigerian society is very welcoming of gender-based violence. Society always finds a way to blame the woman. This is the sad reason why many sexual assault cases go unreported due to the fear of being blamed
I hope for a Nigeria where societal standards no longer exist, and phrases like “that’s too revealing” will be extinct. I desire a Nigeria where regardless of tribe or religion, women will be afforded the same opportunities as men. I want a Nigeria where the country is led by a woman, and political roles will be made more available for women. I want a Nigeria where everyone gets a good education. I want a Nigeria where our history is taught in schools again. Not knowing our history as women affects our knowledge of our rights. Nigerian women have always fought back and will continue to do so until we have no reason to fight anymore. The revolution begins now, and it will not end.