Wednesday, 22 February 2017


By Isaac Ovwonuri

This has become the view of many, ‘This is a man’s world”. Maybe this is true, but it is just true up to a point. Is the world not especially opening up to everyone much more than ever? Obviously it is! Nonetheless, it is likely that this will remain largely a man’s world for a long time to come, if we say so. Strictly speaking however, I do not share the view that it will.

Are you a lady, young or older, and you are intent on pursuing a career? Then read closely! It was many years back that a novelty achievement made great news in Nigeria. What was it? One young lady just passed out from a national aviation institution as the first Nigerian woman pilot. It was on the news for quite a while.

Similarly, it is important you also know that most of the higher institutions handled by women as either Vice Chancellor or Rectors are the best in our present state as a country (Nigeria). What about those of them in Government? Women are best known to be good at handling our country’s finances, people like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Who is a Nigerian politician. She served two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria and was previously Managing Director of the World Bank; played a good role in that aspect. Others may not have been mentioned in this article but the role of women in the society today can never be over emphasized.

Fundamental views hold and accept that God created the sexes and in doing so have obvious primary roles for them in mind. We are all differently gifted and endowed that is, man or woman. Obviously, it shows that how we have been made and sculptured are natural preparations for the primary roles intended for us. When this basic truth is understood and fully appreciated we will not stray and err when we have to deal with sex and gender related issues, especially as they relate to careers and occupations. The woman remains a woman. Nothing can change this. Those who seek to reverse things all the way, soon discover that certain inherent and organically entrenched realities frustrate and betray them. The same is true for the women as it is for the men.

No amount of plastic surgery will make a woman a man. No amount of braiding of hair and dotting of ear rings can make a man a woman. No amount of hormone chemistry and manipulation can make things otherwise. In spite of the perversions and abuses of ancient landmarks between the sexes, there is not much we can do to predominantly change the boundaries and skyline around these things. Prevailing efforts can only produce deviants that are subsequently easily stigmatized, derided, or out rightly ignored by the mainstream of human society and worldviews.

All the same, Women have come a long way in their efforts at having more and more of the action in societies and human endeavours. Increasingly, they are breaking into trades and professions that were once men’s exclusives. Intellectually, women could be as rich and endowed as the men. In many cases they have been found to be intellectually superior Consequently, many have proved their mettle in academics, and other rare and seemingly hitherto male professions, like Politics, Medicine, Law, Engineering, and the like. No one should deny women this continuing opportunity. Society should increasingly remain an equal opportunity platform. There should be no vocational or occupational segregation on the bases of sex. Let every body’s endowments, qualifications and competences, make a way for him, male or female.

All the same, there are certain undeniable realities which only the ignorant and the mischievous will seek to underplay. These realities include the following which most normal women will subscribe to, most probably in the order in which they are given here below:

  • Predominantly, most normal ladies are happy being women and would prefer to remain so in their hearts of heart.
  • She will naturally want to have a man in her life, usually and preferably as her husband and exclusively so.
  • She will usually want to be a mother and homemaker, especially considering that this inherent propensity is very strong in her. To be otherwise is a rare deviation.
  • Given the opportunity, she will appreciate a good education and training to enable her possibly hold down a job, pursue a career, and reach her utmost in life.
  • All things being equal, she will sacrifice anything to keep her home and children. The opposite can only be a societal induced deviation and aberration.

Just like her male counterparts, a woman with the gifting, training and opportunity, will like to pursue a career on any of the career tracks namely:

  1. Corporate Career
  2. Public Sector Career
  3. Professional Career
  4. Business (Entrepreneurial) Career
  5. Christian Ministerial Career (Religious)
  6.  Political Career, etc
Nonetheless, it remains true that most women will not like to sacrifice their dreams to become wives and mothers on the altar of any career quest.

Today, much more than ever, more women are involved in the world of work, in careers and in paid employments. Many who otherwise may not have done so may be compelled by the following reasons:

  • Working to augment family income, especially where the husband is not earning enough.
  •  Older women, especially those with grown up children, work to escape boredom and restlessness, besides putting their training and talent to work.
  • The challenge and economic demands of being single parents
  •  The surge of propensity to prove their skills and their worth as human beings.

The quest and revolution for granting Women equal opportunity in the world of work are not recent.
This has been a long drawn one down the highway of history. For instance, in the United States, up till the middle of the 20th century, the socio-occupational official and judicial attitude of confining women’s production and reproductive efforts to the domestic sphere and front remained. This was virtually the fundamental position of societies across the globe. It was not really that women were not allowed to work, but where they did was the question. There were barriers against the engagement of women in paid employment, especially in those occupations society considered the non-provinces of women.

To this effect there were even protective legislations to keep women from certain jobs. A case in point was the protective labour legislation in the US in 1874. In Great Britain such professions such as Medicine, Law and Engineering were fore-closed against women until 1919. The first woman judge in Britain was only appointed in 1962. It was only in the 1 970s that women were admitted to the floor of the English Stock Exchange. However, in Britain, women were generally allowed into the Teaching profession.

In the case of Nigeria and Africa at large, by the sheer force and facts of our culture, traditions and religions, the same kind of “protective” discrimination against the women-folk in the world of work was quite similar with the cases in Europe and America. However, when we weigh current situations against the historical facts that we have been listing, no one will argue that enormous progress has not been made in finding more occupational and vocational space for the daughters of Eve, the women folk. Nonetheless, the bases and prejudices are not all gone. They still remain strong in most places.

It is however cheering to note, that both nationally and globally, efforts are increasing via policy and actions in creating more equal opportunities and enabling environments to enable women to compete within the occupational, economic and socio-political space. For instance, going by the 21st century thrust of the United Nation (UN) and its related agencies, efforts at promoting and mobilizing globally in these regards are gathering momentum. The United Nations as an institution is pursuing strongly the twin project of;

  • Promotion of Gender Equality, and
  • The Empowerment of Women.

In seeking to ensure the empowerment of women, the UN (United Nations) is promoting the creation of new employment opportunities, through job creation and promotion of entrepreneurship among women.

Given the deep realities in which we live, viz a viz the make-up and fundamental roles of the sexes, it does not make sense, both now and for the future, to seek competition among the sexes. Rather we should stretch the spaces for responsible complementarily among the sexes. Let everyone’s qualification, gifts and competences, within the context of the limitations and peculiarities that are unique and particular to him determine what career and vocation he pursues, man or woman.

These limitations and peculiarities arise from realities that we may not be able to run away from. A word from Prof Chioma Kanu Agomo bears this reality out. She once wrote:

“It is an axiomatic truth that women are different from men. Women alone can bear children. This basic fact carries with it far reaching implications in the world of work”.

This author, on his part has a strong and continuing interest in expanding the horizon for women in all areas of human endeavour. He believes that women are capable of huge and positive impacts in society. He does not however accept that playing their God-given roles as wives, mothers, teachers and home-makers diminishes her nor do they need to abandon these. They only need to be harmonized within current realities. Otherwise, it will mean throwing away what you have for what you lope to get. No sane person should indulge in such a wild goose chase. It is likely to be altogether futile. Going by the foregoing, this author strongly identifies with the view expressed by no less a person than the current Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, when he said.

“When women thrive, all of society benefits and succeeding generations are given a better start in life”.

It goes without saying that for our societies to do better and so preserve themselves, it is crucial to create greater room in the social and economic space so the women can make greater contributions which their endowments, natural and acquired, can promise and afford.

All the same, as we are confronted with the need to facilitate more space for women in the world of work, many, including women, will insist that it should not be a “block allocation of favours”. This school holds that the vocational and occupational space should be opened to men and women alike to compete for position on the bases of qualification, experience and competence. It should be a level playing field for all. The view of this author is that societies who realize the positive spread- effect which empowering women would bring should pursue same as a matter of deliberate policy.

However, the following caveat needs to be heeded. That is, all these ought to be done without eroding the ancient but ageless values and landmarks for the continuing cohesion of society. For instance, no sane society should allow this liberation and release to serve in weakening family life, bonds and values. It is important to remember that such values cannot be destroyed without the society paying dearly for it, sooner or later Those who underplay this point should take a look at what is happening to family values in Europe and America with their attendant dire consequences on those societies. They should look at what it has done and is doing to homes, marriages and painfully to children, the future generation.

Among others, this piece is dedicated to alerting, especially women, who are career minded that the workplace terrain in which they operate or intend to operate is still fraught with plenty of challenges which they ought to be mindful of. This orientation will better prepare them as to what disposition to adopt. In that case they should be determined to call any bluff and so be better able to navigate through any of the obstacles that may come their way. Challenges to women in society and in the world of work still arise and usually include the following:

  • Sexual harassment, manipulation and intimidation.
  • Child bearing, child rearing and home-keeping which from time to time do intervene in career programmes and progress of working mothers.
  • Overwhelming male visibility in the workplace its tendency at inducing marginalization minority complex in women in the workplace.
  • The complexity of balancing the home-front demands, gender equality pressures on one hand; and on the other the near nuisance value of women “Liberation and emancipation” sentiments.
  • The possibilities of corporate mischiefs in some places, for instance, that of using women as sexual baits and fronts in procuring and expanding patronage. For instance in Nigeria there came a time when some banks started emphasizing the recruitment of and deployment of young ladies as Field 

Marketing Officers (FMOs), with the particular aim of chasing and mobilizing deposits. Many of the young Ladies sought to do this with “all they are and have”.

  • The attitude of society and its, tendency at stigmatizing single career women, especially in Africa, is still with us.
  • The inertia of society, especially in the two-thirds world, in refusing to modernize its attitudes as to what are considered the primary and the traditional roles and spheres for women namely, child bearing, rearing, home-keeping and working at home and around the home.

As a result of the foregoing challenges therefore, one still discovers that in many places there are still several entry barriers to the women-folk in the world of work, especially in some largely male dominated careers.

These barriers include:

  • Male-inspired cartelism, that is prescribing tough entry qualification which are sex discriminatory in order to protect and preserve their (men’s) hold on given vocations and professions.
  • Socio-cultural and historical overhangs
  • Trumpeting and spreading the “Weaker concept to justify denial of career entry women-folk into certain occupations.
  • Discrimination on the basis of age. For instance denying women of child-bearing age job offers in many industrial concerns.
  • Ban on pregnancy while in employment. Most times such are operated as under the counter policies.
Beyond the theory, podium and textbook activism, this is the reality which the women have to grapple with, out there in the world of work. Sometimes qualified women agree with their spouses, for family reasons not to work outside the home until their children are fully grown up. This is easier to appreciate when the man and the woman, the husbands and the wives, understand their roles as complementary instead of a competition of the sexes.

In spite of all these, things are really looking up for women. Increasingly more and more disciplines and professions are opening up to them. Virtually all over the world more and more legislations are coming up seeking to promote gender equality in the world of work. Women intent on pursuing careers in the public sphere, should do well to keep abreast of these developments. They should consider this as part of their Career Education and Development.

Women should be very free to pursue any discipline or course of study. They should be free to pursue any career of their choice. This they must balance with the kind of life they want to lead, the kind of women they want to be. Some may not bother about marriage, motherhood and keeping a home. Some may choose to be single career ladies. A good number may choose to take a middle course. Whichever let the society choose to do its own part by deliberately opening more space for women in the world of work so that nobody will be denied being his utmost on the account of his sex.

These days women can even work from home for their organizations. For whatever we say or think, a properly adjusted, well qualified and trained mother remains one of the most valuable assets of any society. Societies need their contributions. The society is the worse for it without them.

1 comment:

  1. Wow... Makes sense sha! Yoma you are right my dear, keep it up this is very inspiring to me Bro! I wish all men will think like this lol, but you know Nigerians, trust me, they will criticize this article big time but as for me am ok with and not because am a women or a women to be but as one who will love to be a career woman, everybody has their choice sha!


Disclaimer: Comment expressed do not reflect the opinion of Isaac Yoma