It was a sunny afternoon on 21st of April 1986; I was on my way home from school when I suddenly notice a group of people in front of our home in Lagos, Nigeria. Moving closer, I noticed my Aunt was dancing and singing in our native dialect. Suddenly, my younger sister appeared and ran towards me shouting “Mummy gave birth to a baby boy”. I ran inside the house to see my Mum and my little brother, I smiled and thought to myself that finally I have a brother just like my friends.
My mum and Dad had nine children, eight daughters and one son. The male was the only son and the last child of the family. The reason why my parents decided to have so many children was the search for a male child. In Africa, a male child is considered very important because he, as they put it, will be the one to carry on the family name and legacy. If a woman cannot give birth to a male child for her husband, then she won’t be accepted by the husband’s family and the husband will go out and marry another wife that will bore him a son.
Before the birth of my brother my mum went through a lot of maltreatment from her in-laws. They come to the house and threaten here with all sorts, like telling her that they will kick her and her daughters out of my father’s house or they will tell her that they will marry another wife for my dad. We the children were not treated differently, they will look at us scornfully as if we were the cause of us been born as girls. They hurl insults at us, calling us different names. They wanted my father to have an heir of his own. They always say, “Girls don’t inherit their father’s properties”.
My mum was always unhappy each time she gets pregnant and gives birth to another girl child. She was desperate for a son because my dad already got 2 women pregnant in his search for a male child. he wanted a son desperately. Unfortunately, both women gave birth to girls. After the birth of my brother, there was happiness and peace written all over my mum and dad. A very big party was thrown to celebrate the birth of an heir to my father. My father was proud to show off his son to all his friends. He was the happiest man on earth.
Years after the birth of my brother, my dad treated my brother differently from the rest of us. If my brother doesn’t like a food that was being cooked, then they will have to cook his own type of food separately, of which we the girls didn’t have such privileges. My brother gets away with a lot of things, like sneaking out of the house with my dad’s car and getting into an accident with it. He wasn’t scolded for it, but if any of the girls seek permission to use his car, the answer is always a big “NO”. He attended a private school while the rest of us went to government public school. This reminded me of my friend’s dad that would rather send his male children to school and tell his daughters that school is not for girls. He will tell them that a woman’s place is in her husband’s house. All his sons went to school and got good education while his wife struggled to educate her daughters. He says his daughters will leave his home eventually when they get married and change their names from his to that of their husbands. So, it’s a waste to spend money in educating them. Today, all his daughters are professionals in their fields of study. He is so proud of them now that he doesn’t hesitate to tell whoever bothers to listen how proud he is of them.
We weren’t allowed to bring boys home, my mum kept telling us that it is wrong to have male friends before marriage because a girl should keep herself pure and prepare herself for her wedding night. This is not the case with my brother, he brings his female friends’ home and my mum cooks for them and laugh with them. Despite the gender inequality been practiced in my home, my sisters and I got the quality education we wanted .Today we are all graduates and doing very well in our
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie the author of We should all be feminist said “And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.” This explains a society where a female is only to be seen dressed beautifully for her husband and not to be heard. A society whereby a female is not given same opportunity as a male. A society that needs recues from been gender bias.
Gender equality has taught me that though physically we are different, intellectually, innovatively and creatively we are the same. Presently, we have a lot of females going into professional field that was once termed the male domain. Today, we have female professors, neurosurgeons, engineers, even female astronauts etc.
Gender inequality is still a major issue around the world. Female are still considered lesser than men, they earn lesser than their male counterpart at work. Female child education in some part of Africa is still lacking. Females are underrepresented in politics. There is need for reorientation of people to start viewing women and men has equal in all areas of life. There is a saying in my country that goes like “What a man can do, a woman can do twice more”.