If gender bias had a face, what would it look like?
The voices of women all over the world are becoming louder in the conversation around inclusion, and representation, while speaking against societal ills.
In March, a large number of women stormed the National Assembly to protest the rejection of the five gender bills to promote more opportunities for them in politics, governance, and the society at large.
8 Naija women shared their stories of gender bias with SNTK. From family to religious places and work stations, they agree that prejudice against women exists everywhere.
No one believes in girls and it is unfair. I see the way people look down on my mum because she does not have a boy child. Please, what can a boy do that we can’t do?
The religious bias against women is something else. In critical issues like conception that involves both genders. Prayers are usually centered on the female leaving the male gender most times. Programs are organized just for women as if all medical issues revolve around women only. The narrative has to change!!!
For me as a person, whatever step I am taking, my husband is also involved. Be it prayers or whatsoever medications. My mental health is quite more important than anything in this world. I made him understand that we are in this together and nobody is free until we get what we are expecting. As soon as he notices I’m using something, he requests his own too.
There’s this look of disappointment I get from people, especially the women folk, when I tell them that I’m not married at 32. Some treat me like I have a spiritual problem. Sometimes, I let it get to me but after a while I shake off the feeling and move on with my life. My aunt and her hubby think I’m too selective, so they come up with the ‘no man is perfect’ sermon. They look down on my parents too because their daughters are married and I’m not.
The head of a department entered my office and shouted that I should come for deliverance because of my hairstyle. Apparently, he thinks only demon possessed women would cut a ‘male’ hairstyle. I told him I didn’t need prayers and that I even conduct deliverance for people. He resorted to embarrassing and shaming me for looking younger and sassier.
Realizing I was pregnant after being offered a job and my manager told me ‘you didn’t look pregnant during the interview, you deceived me’. If he knew, I wouldn’t have been employed.
At work, I’ve been told that I’m too ambitious for a woman, especially when I was pushing for promotions and also taking on new projects.
When I was coming to China after I got my admission, my dad had to lie to his siblings that I was going to do my masters at the University of Ibadan because if he told them that he was sponsoring me abroad, they would have told him to wait till my younger brother graduated because nobody spends such money on a girl.
I remember when they finally knew I travelled to China, everybody went to my father to ask him what his gain was in sponsoring his daughter abroad. They asked why he couldn’t spend the money on properties instead of giving me all his money or investing the money on his sons instead. Sometimes, my dad would tell me that he wishes I am a boy. And, I’m like, after everything I’ve been trying to do, you still feel like it would have been better if I was a boy and not a girl.
When people ask about my parents and I tell them that they have been separated for a long time, they just look at me like I will soon become a prostitute. It affected the way people related to me. I remember a time when one of my ex-friends was going to recommend me for a job and she told me that her mother said I’m the daughter of a failed mother, so I won’t be able to thrive in that position. According to her mother, the position should go to a person from a balanced home and mind.
Would it have been better if I was a guy and my parent’s marriage didn’t work out? People would have assumed that he is a guy, he would handle his life but the stigma goes on the girl. When she wants to get married and she meets a guy’s family, they will be like, ‘she will not make a good wife.’ Nobody will tell a man coming from a broken marriage that he will not make a good husband.
This stereotype is what I have experienced. I have seen that nobody treats my brothers the same way. No girl will say I don’t want to date this boy because his parents are not together but I’ve had issues with guys saying they can’t date me because I’m a daughter from a broken marriage, so all the bad things dwell on the girl.