Do Women Climb Trees?

I realized the difference

between my brothers and I when I was 9.

I vividly remember my elder sister always insisting I join her in the kitchen to prepare food when all I wanted was to join my brothers to watch television in the sitting room. One day, I had to complain to my mom and she told me that I had to join my sister because I am a girl. I was confused and wanted to argue but of course I knew where that always led me so I held my tongue.

Another scenario that made me really confused as a child was the restriction from climbing trees. I loved climbing trees and when I was much younger I and my brothers used to climb trees a lot. One day when I was about ten, my mum found me high up in a mango tree. Arms akimbo she ordered me to come down immediately! I was warned never to climb trees again because girls or women do not climb trees, it was forbidden. That really messed up my mind because it just didn’t make sense to me. Why will my brothers be allowed to climb tree and I forbidden?

I could go on and on with these childhood gender bias. Over time these prevailing norms shape our lives, it colors our reality and influences how we see the world. While gender roles are there to ensure that there is a balance in society, a lot of imbalance and chaos have actually ensured from these societal defined gender roles. As forward thinking people, it is pertinent that we weigh the societal gender roles thoroughly before enforcing them to ensure that the potential inherent in people are fully harnessed.

There are so male skilled male chefs that will never be discovered because their mothers never taught them how to cook in the first place or demeaned the act of cooking as unmanly. There are so many female politicians who may never change the world of politics because their dreams were uprooted because they had fathers, mothers and even husbands who felt that they were too loud, too bossy and too domineering. So to fit into the ideal daughter and wife, they had to lower their voice.

We may not be able to change the past but we can sure do something about the future and the present. It’s time we begin to look inwards and place more emphasis on capacity and ability. This is the only way Nigeria can grow and it begins with every single one of us. It begins with the way we treat and raise our children; it begins with the words we say or our deafening silence. It begins with the things we do when we hear about a male caregiver and a female politician. It begins with the jokes we refused to partake in when we hear of a woman who leaves an abusive marriage or a man who cries in public. It begins with refusing to ask every single girl above 24 when she is getting married, it begins with teaching our sons to cook and our girls to wash cars. It begins with you!

At what age did you notice that you received unequal treatment because of your gender?
Please share your story.

Written by : Christiana Onuiri

Comments

  1. I have had my own fair share of gender bias as a kid. From hearing "bend down and sweep properly. Is this how you wnat to sweep in your husband's house?" To a lot of things about husband and husband house as if I was born just to be a wife. I am glad I have grown into a lady who has a mind of her own and at the same time can make sound decisions ditching misogynistic thoughts. Nice write up Christy.

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  2. Wow....when I was a child, I loved climbing trees, my favorite were guava, paw paw and uha leave trees, I was a fast as a lizard in climbing trees but I stopped by myself the day we saw the scales of a snake, out of fear, I fell right from the tree top, the boys were still up looking around to see if the snake was there, I injured myself, and there I stopped climbing trees.

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