A Beautiful and Encouraging Workshop

At the Contemporary Women’s Issues Workshop in Nigeria [see previous article], it was refreshing to see us beautiful African women coming together and discharging on issues affecting us. Being in a group solely of women gave me the confidence and courage to express myself freely on issues I had thought were unique to me. I realized that as women we share a bond, no matter what our race or age. We share similar struggles.

Diane Balser led us on the topics of health (Caesarian section, fibroids, infertility, miscarriage, menstrual periods, and so on), sexism, male dominance, internalized oppression, equality (or lack thereof), colonialism, the beautification industries, and nuptial-related issues (dowry, marriage, polygamy, divorce, single mothers, widows).

Women face some level of discrimination nearly everywhere—at home and in workplaces, schools, restaurants, and so on. Religion, traditional values, family dynamics, and the society support sexist behavior. The male child is measured against the concept of an ideal man—strong and assertive. This jeopardizes his humanity. It forces him to become rigid and directly or indirectly dominate females. The female is groomed to be the caregiver and support person, not the front-runner. She is told that it’s “natural” for the man to lead and for her to follow.

Women are enormously oppressed by marriage. For example, in the northern part of Nigeria, religion is misinterpreted and misapplied such that women are sometimes not allowed to move freely beyond nearby houses. Once married, a woman is under her husband’s control and expected to be completely submissive to him.

We talked about dowry and bride price. Dowry is money or property brought into the marriage by the bride. Bride price (practiced in Islam) is the opposite of dowry. The groom pays it to the bride’s parents at the time of marriage, and it is later given to the bride. Either way it is oppressive to the woman.

Exposing or speaking about our body parts is seen as morally impure. Women alter their body parts to look appealing to and be accepted by men. The beautification industries make millions at the expense of women. It was fun and interesting to appreciate my body and talk openly about it at the workshop.

I am glad I got to be part of something so beautiful and encouraging. Thank you very much.

Hauwa Musa

Bauchi, Northern Nigeria

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion listfor leaders of women

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00