Women as an Avenue for Money Making

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo


Post Beijing 1995 Women's conference brought about increased agitation for women's rights and gender equality globally. Nigeria was not left out in the fever as we also witnessed-at least by speech- an increased clamour for women's rights and an increased activity in the womendom. With this also came more recognition-though out side the constitution- of the office of the First lady(s) both at the federal and state levels as well as the creation of bodies such as the Ministry of Women affairs and the National Council of Women Societies. The question is; what really do these bodies do?

Before any one gets me wrong, I respect and appreciate womanhood. I agree that Women face a cultural disadvantage in our society which has left them to suffer so many vices such as early/forced marriages, domestic violence, genital mutilation, rape, denial of education, and so on and it is right that in this modern age and as led by the United Nations, we should begin to create avenues through which women can be emancipated and empowered to participate better in the society.

My grouse how ever is that all the pro-women talk in Nigeria is simply hypocrisy. As far as I am concerned- which is the painful reality-, the whole women talk in Nigeria has been hijacked by a group of super rich and influential women and has become an avenue for-as is said- securing their own national cake.

Women Emancipation has become an office-a slang we used back in the university to describe any avenue for making cheap, easy and questionable money. These cabals of women have positioned them selves to corner every thing that comes in the name of Nigerian Women from international grants to Nigerian budgetary allocations and have continued to feed fat from it without any significant improvement in the lives of the poor rural women who are indeed those who need to be emancipated.

It presents a near comical picture when these fat, round and nearly obese women, with facial and bodily make-up that smirks of their not too successful effort to keep looking young, appear on television, gliding from one side to the order talking or in most cases singing about women emancipation. A look at them and it is clear these folks need no further emancipation neither do they give a hoot about the many suffering women all over the country. They are simply tending their office and it hurts to know that they've so legitimized their corruption.

These women are good at organizing rallies and public campaigns. After embezzling what ever is budgeted, they go into the villages and urban slums and gather together downtrodden women to fill up the hall or campaign venue. At the end of the day spent under the scorching sun and singing about what they understand nothing about, the rented crowd are given some cheap super print wrapper, tee-shirts and measures of salt or rice which they gladly rejoice home with, ready and willing to come out when next they are called.

The big madams smile home with the booty and the whole women business goes on. This is criminal and a brazen case of exploitation which we can not continue to pretend we don't know about.

Same goes to the now popular call for the increased participation of women in Government. How do more women in power help to improve the lots of the many powerless rural women? The whole clamour simply is to have more of them gracing the corridors of power and expanding the tentacles of their business. While I admit that every woman, indeed all humans have a right to aspire to higher positions and offices, it is morally wrong for some people to be hiding under the toga of Women to advance chiefly personal and painfully selfish interests.

Funnily we've had recent cases of women who were entrusted with such higher political offices, disgracing the entirety of Nigerian women by preoccupying themselves in cornering public funds much like their male counterparts.

Interestingly, these women some of who are wives of ex-leaders simply rotate them selves in all available government appointments. Once there is an opening, they either smuggle themselves in or send in their cronies. They go around calling themselves women leaders, sweet talk the poorer and less educated peasant women into coming under their control, with promises of helping them access loans as co-operatives. When the loans come, the women who need it never get it.

It is pertinent to ask what the ministry of women affairs- complete with a minister, permanent secretary and scores of civil servants- do? What have they achieved in the last ten years beyond mobilizing women to flood the venue of PDP campaign rallies? What can we boast about as the major successes the ministry has registered as seen in the advancement of the state of the common Nigerian woman? Where has all the budgetary allocations gone to?

Same question goes for the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS). What are they doing? Beyond sitting around attending conferences and seminars where they teach themselves what they already know and pocket the estacodes, what else do they do?.

In Abuja, just opposite the imposing CBN building is a complex called the Women Development Center where these cabal of women hold court. How many women has that center truly developed in recent times? We should all begin to ask.

Recently I wrote a piece on the many troubles that female bankers, trying to make a legitimate career go through in the course of their duties. There has been a nation wide up-roar of this issue with even the Senate President making remarks about it recently. It is a pity to note that our women affairs ministry has either not yet deemed it fit enough to champion this course or does not see it as their responsibility.

The above is in addition to the many other agonizing situations the Nigerian Woman is subjected to daily especially in our rural areas and urban slums. It is thus okay to state-like the title of this piece reads-that Nigerian woman are now an avenue to make money.

This is both a shameful and unfortunate situation and it behooves on us to end it. A group of women can not continue to have to themselves what has been air marked for a larger group. We must stop looking at this a women's matter, because even if you are not a woman, you have one as either a wife or a mother.  The greater majority of hard working but long-suffering Women who by their economic status can not speak for them selves deserve our help on this.

It's is high time those big madams with a penchant for being friendly with any government in power, are dislodged from their positions and our women giving a chance to really receive the attention that they really deserve.

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

nzeifedigbo@yahoo.com

www.nzesylva.wordpress.com