Understanding the role of women aright

This column did not appear last Friday, March 8, when our gender was being celebrated on the occasion of the International Women’s Day as I was handicapped by a leg problem. Two days later, March 10, the Anglican Church marked Mothering Sunday (Mothers Day). Catholics would commemorate their own Mothers Day later. And in this holy month of Ramadan, Muslim women are scheduled to receive special lectures. The bottom line is that virtually all peoples now realise the importance of women as to accord them some form of special recognition.

However, it had not always been like this. For centuries, women had been overly marginalised, discriminated against in many areas and generally regarded as second hand citizens that can be toyed and trampled upon like a foot mat. It was just over a century ago that women in England, a first world country, started enjoying universal suffrage, the right to vote. In less developed countries, including Africa, having a female child was regarded as a sort of curse which they would gladly do away with.

Thus, in the beginning the goal was for women to be respected as individual entities in their own rights, enjoying same rights as men. That is, to do away with the general notion that women are inferior beings that can be treated like a rag and disposed of into a trash can according to the whims and caprices of the man. 

Thus, we began to have slogans like ‘women’s rights are human rights’. Women then began to enjoy the right to education, right to vote and be voted for as well as reproductive rights; in brief the right to have a say and to choose. Hitherto, women were to be seen not heard, regarded more or less as inanimate objects without a mind of their own or feeling and which can be treated disdainfully like a log of wood pushed and shoved hither and thither.

Today the sing song is women empowerment; they are now being empowered in several ways. In the western world, touching a female inappropriately without her consent even if jokingly, is tantamount to attempted rape and would land the man in hot soup. Men that are separated from or divorced from their wives are made to pay alimony to them, that is, financial support which is usually a hefty sum.

The women advocacy movement has moved from the era of women’s rights, feminism to the new era of gender equality and sexism. Now, the advocacy is on gender equality, to have equal number of men and women in positions of authority and decision-making. Still, the role of women is seen primarily as procreation. A woman’s task transcends that though. While womanhood exists in all planes of creation, from the highest to the lowest here, procreation is limited only to this our small earth.

While I agree that the role of women in national development, indeed, development of the world itself, cannot be overemphasised, I disagree with the notion of gender equality in the true sense of the word. Women can influence the world wherever they are; they do not have to be president, speaker or hold other positions of authority in public life to be able to do this. All they need is true knowledge of their sacred duty in creation and to be able to fulfill this task no matter where fate places them. 

A woman’s work, which is quiet in nature, transcends boundaries, space and time. Women are often referred to and, indeed, regarded as the weaker sex. This is wrong, for between men and women there is no ‘weaker’ or ‘stronger’ sex as such. They both complement each other. The difference between both sexes is in their activities/work as ordained by nature. While the woman engages in fine, negative kinds of activities, that of the man is positive, coarse kind. And their physical make-up corresponds to their type of activities – men with their muscular build and women with a supple physique, etc.

In addition, a woman has implanted in her something which the man lacks; let us call it a ‘thread of substantiality’. This links her to the higher realm above, the source of all knowledge and power, imbuing her with power. Part of this her innate power manifests in what we call ‘’feminine charm’’. Besides, in the gradations of Creation from higher (lighter) realms down to this gross (coarse) material earth, the woman has to be the first in each realm to make way for the others to follow or enter.

Notwithstanding the seemingly passive nature of a woman’s activities or calling, it is far-reaching and is, in fact, the leading one. Technicians recognise that the negative (female) is the leading one in making electrical connections, etc. There can be no successful connection where the negative is absent. Overall, women are inherently gifted to lead, but their leading is not one to be thrown about in a loud, obtrusive manner; rather it manifests in silent, quiet working. 

They can be likened to the power behind the throne here on earth (men being the ones on the throne). And they can lead all those on the throne, that is, those men in authority, in decision making positions who are their husbands, uncles, nephews, cousins, fathers to govern/lead aright if they themselves stand aright as genuine women that truly fulfill their God-given tasks. Women need not be in positions of authority to contribute maximally to the world’s development.

Women bear greater guilt for the turmoil in our world today. Firstly, women have, for the most part, channeled the (feminine) power (which we call charm) imbued in them to wrong causes. They have used it not to propel men to noble deeds but to enchant them to misdeeds of all kinds. Importantly, those that torment us in all four corners of the world in diverse ways today are fruits of our womb. Yet, women are in a position to influence every fruit of their womb so as to bring forth only noble human beings. For this, they need true knowledge, not competing with men in vainglorious pursuits.

Victoria Ngozi Ikeano writes via [email protected] 08033077519