Feminism in the Nigerian society is a clamor of conflicting voices yet to echo a definite purpose and a fragile dream ceaselessly seeking to take an actual form of reality. The word feminism seems to be understood from plethora of perspectives which is largely influenced by environmental, religious and cultural differences. Nigeria is a country intricately woven in innumerable and semblance cultures and tradition and firmly rooted in its religious beliefs and practices. Despite these obvious differences which highlights our rich and distinct heritage, the issue of subjugation of women is sadly a widespread and common phenomenon which was and still is, vividly prevalent in various cultural and religious practices in Nigeria. To mention but a few of the old barbaric practices includes; female genital mutilation, deprivation of widows of their husband’s properties and belongings, exclusion from leadership roles and traditional titles and positions.
However this age long subjugation of women heralded subtle protest and resistance over the years and the incident of colonization and westernization fuelled this agitation into an out blown revolution known as Feminism. Some of the prominent women who sparked the fires of women’s rights movement in Africa to mention but a few includes Funmilayo Ransome Kuti of Nigeria, Miriam Makeba of South Africa, Yaa Asantewa of Ghana, and Queen Nzinga of Angola etc. The whirlwind of feminism has birthed many positive changes across the country. Numerous enforceable and effective laws has been enacted and various non-governmental organizations has been established to curb all forms of violence against women. Women now occupy prominent positions in almost all sectors of government and economy.
The pertinent question is, has the concept of feminism been fully understood, accepted and actualized in Nigeria? The glaring difference in culture, tradition and religion hampers the comprehensibility of feminism and shatters its strong one voice into echoes of incoherent outcry. The idea of feminism for an ardent Muslim Nigerian woman is radically different from that of a non Muslim Nigerian woman who may be more daring in her choices. Furthermore, the stronghold of our culture and tradition still tenaciously grips us and frowns at the idea of feminism. Most traditions will not allow women to engage in certain practices or occupy positions exclusively reserved for the patriarchal lineage. Can the whirlwind of feminism sweep away some of the beliefs and tradition that defines us but unfortunately degrade the status of women? It will indeed be a herculean task.
This article was written by Eke Violet Chidinma; connect with her on Instagram here