Mazeed Mukhtar Oyeleye writes,
Each time I recall something that occurred during my first year, I wonder how deep the roots of gender stereotypes stretch in our society. My roommate, a 300-level Primary Education student, had returned from lecture and sparked a conversation. He narrated that a lecturer asked the class how many planned to marry female graduates. What he said next shocked me to the marrow. He swore that more than half of their hands were down.
Another roommate, who the story also surprised, asked why most of them [including the narrator] did not want to marry a graduate. To my dismay, he insisted that tertiary education, especially campus life, exposes ladies to illicit activities that strip them of their chastity. He added that the lecturer accused them of doing to their female colleagues what they dread others doing their future partners.
And I had asked the narrator if he would send his daughters to the university. Although I do not remember getting a definite answer, what I learned broke my heart. Sadly, the majority of my roommates shared his conviction: Why send a girl child to the university to lose her dignity after learning to read and write from primary and high school?
Thus I concluded that their thoughts were offshoots of miscomprehended religious doctrines, warped dogmatic heirlooms, discriminatory upbringing and shallow enlightenment, and consequently lost interest in their opinions on whatsoever subject. However, more than a year later, I realised our society is faulty.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, I stumbled upon the flyer for a webinar about menstrual health, one that struck me as a discourse for ladies. Thinking of advancing awareness for the program, I read through the flyer and immediately lost the zeal to continue as intended. The webinar’s theme was ‘It’s a Mense world’ or some kind of wordplay that connected menstruation to men.
The climax of the disrespect for the female gender was that the five learned panellists for the discussion were men. I couldn’t help wondering if no females could handle the discourse better than the men lined up to speak on an unarguably-feminine topic. While I do not mind listening to a lady speak on male reproductive health, I believe nothing beats the combination of experience and disciplinary expertise.
How does one justify the harsh reality of people with thorough education, noteworthy exposure and supposedly-liberal cultural, religious and social ideologies thinking like shallow-minded youths?
I can’t seem to get over the currency of our society regarding gender discrimination. Appraising the beliefs that metamorphose into norms that prevail in this clime disturbs me. I dread raising daughters in a clime that believes women are worth no more than battle scars that should remain hidden from plain sight.
Thus, the onus falls on this generation to bequeath a society to posterity that does not see femininity with jaundiced eyes. Ever wondered why we address organisations, countries and other notable entities using feminine pronouns? Rack your brain no more; see it as a subtle reminder that the female gender means greatness that we must not rein.
Therefore, we must make conscious efforts to ensure women are not held back from their dreams by the ugly normative tentacles of our society, beginning with personal decisions to make our society a fair race for womenfolk. Every well-meaning member of our community must make a mental note that he does not want to initiate or be an instrument for gender discrimination. That would be the glorious beginning of a new epoch in Nigeria.
Our respective convictions will materialise into thoughtful interactions at the bottom of the social ladder – our families. Women have to steer clear of making families with misogynists who will continue the vicious social circle that outlived generations before them and muffle the voices of their female offspring. Parents also need to impart lore to their kids to help them think beyond gender bias and stand their ground in the face of discrimination.
As we wish womenfolk around the globe a happy women’s day, we ought to come to terms with the fact that femininity is underrated and disrespected and consequently make convictions to change the narrative by ending gender bias in our clime.

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