Feminism is still an infamous concept in Nigeria despite its long-lasting presence for over a hundred years. Women’s liberation has always been ingrained in the history of Nigeria and can be traced back to 1914, the very year Nigeria became Nigeria. In a heavily patriarchal society like Nigeria, liberation from oppression and discrimination of women is a cause that should be supported and promoted in all industries to ensure fairness and equality of genders. The media also has a critical role to play in the representation of women and women’s struggles.
The global film industry is considered a male-dominated industry and Nollywood is no exception to this. The Nigerian Film industry has historically been spearheaded by men, hence male-driven portrayals of women in Nollywood films from time. The skewed portrayals of women in films have fueled hateful and harmful stereotypes for decades. Portraying women as over-emotional, money hungry, mother-in-law hating, prostituting individuals have contributed largely to how Nigerian men perceive and treat Nigerian women in real life.
The inclusion of more women writers, producers, directors and editors in Nollywood has aided better representation of women in films. Having women write about women and tell stories about women gives the audience a chance to get a better picture of who Nigerian women are, what their strengths, weaknesses and struggles are. Female directors such as Genevieve Nnaji, Kemi Adetiba, Jadesola Osiberu and many others, portray women as more than sex objects or troublesome housewives. These filmmakers highlight the gender issues faced by women daily in the country, as well as portray Nigerian women as women who are resilient, and goal-driven.
It’s one thing to have women included in the creative process of filmmaking in Nollywood, but another thing to understand how difficult the industry makes it for women to be successful in the industry. In terms of income disparities, recognition, project opportunities and so on, gender discrimination still seeps its way into these matters.
So, is Nollywood an ally to women’s liberation, empowerment and equality? I’ll say to an extent it is. With more women infiltrating the industry ready to actualize their dreams and create opportunities for other women, there’s bound to be better representation and opportunities for women in the Nigerian film industry.
This article was written by Kikachi Memeh; connect with her on Instagram via here