International Day of The Girl Child, 2017

The International Day of the girl child is celebrated on the 11th of October every year, the world over.

The general theme according to the UN Women is tagged, “Empower girls: Before, during and after conflict. Many parts of the world in recent times have various forms of conflicts and war. No continent is left out of the heart wrenching mindless killings. Families and everyone who find themselves caught in these conflicts suffer so much loss no doubt.

In Nigeria, we have the Boko Haram conflict in the northeast and many girls and women have been abducted. They are made to cook, clean and carry out the menial chores for the terrorist. Aside these,  the girls are forced to become young wives and mothers. I can not imagine the emotional trauma and conflicts that go on in the minds of these victims. Thankfully some have regained their freedom. How much of rehabilitation work is being done to reintegrate them into society is another matter entirely. But many other girls were used as child suicide bombers and others caught in between the crossfire lost their lives.

It is my hope and great heart desire that the war against insurgency and terrorism will be won in the northeast Nigeria and the world over. (This feels like a very tall dream). But we can still make the world safer for every girl and everyone as we each person begins to value peace and other human beings.

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

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Just thinking Out Aloud… Are we paying enough Attention to our Boys & Men? key to Gender equality and creating a safe environment for women & Girls

We talk so much about empowering women and girls that I feel we are beginning to leave the boys and men far behind in the scheme of things. Leaving them behind would only hinder our goal of achieving a world of equal opportunity; safety and well-being of women and girls.

 

 

Examples of what I mean
1) A few months ago(May 2017) there was a joint cry raised against boys from a secondary school in Lagos who after finishing their final exams decided that the best way to celebrate was to physically/sexually assault the girls. They were practically tearing the skits and gowns of their fellow school girls with razor blades and had sport attempting to force themselves on these girls. Thanks to one brave woman who stood and raised alarm to save some of these girls. It was a very disturbing and mind boggling story for me.

My question is this: What are we teaching our sons? Are we teaching them to value girls and respect them? Are we teaching them that a real man protects and not hurt or harm? Catch them young is the solution here.

2) In my office these days we seem to have more women in employment more than men. It is so funny sometimes when deciding for dual presentation programs where we need a male and a female, we meet a wall. There are not enough men to go round….hahaha. Then we start asking “where are all the men?” It looks like more women are determined to get an education and succeed. Now, this is a good thing going by the past and even presently in some communities and homes where girls are still prevented from getting an education. Trends of women gainfully employed have evolved over time.More women are likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29 according to U.S department of labor blog.  More women have become providers in the home although the matter of equal payment still varies from country to country. In Nigeria at least I know for a fact that in government organizations men and women earn equal pay as long as they are on the same level e.g L10.

Balance is what I am advocating for here:

While inspiring, empowering and encouraging girls and women let’s not leave our boys and men behind. This is key to gender equality and women’s access to freedom, safety, and progress.

When a father treats his wife well and shows her respect, his son will likely learn from him.

When mothers teach their sons to respect girls and treat them as equals and not inferior then he will know how to treat all the girls and women around him.

Catch them young, teach right values; share the chores in the home; teach him to become a responsible adult and man.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Why would a Bride do this…?

bride-veil-2Martha (not real name) fell in love with a young man, John (not real name). They both had just graduated from school. Everyone loved the couple; it felt like a relation made in heaven. Their love blossomed and soon talks about marriage popped up. Martha and her fiancé decided to tie the knot and their families began the wedding preparation in earnest. Everyone looked forward to a memorable day.
It was a bright and sunny morning. Jubilation was in the air. The wedding guests who had come from the community and nearby cities bustled with laughter and jesting filled the atmosphere. Other young ladies were teased to hurry and invite them for their own celebration.

The groom was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to take the vows with the love of his life. He waited at the altar smiling and waiting to catch a glimpse of his beautiful bride in her cutely sewn wedding gown. A gloomy face emerged and ran to the altar towards the groom… everyone wondered, the news soon filtered around, “Martha, the bride to be had run away”.

It looked like a scene from the movie, “Runaway Bride”, as I listened to this story but no it was a true life‘s experience.

Why did Martha run on the day she had looked forward to all her life? She ran because she couldn’t face John. She had a secret… “Her vagina was covered with keloid. Martha is one of many girls who gets cut on their vagina when they attain puberty. The flesh around her vagina had been cut and it formed a big scared tissue. She was ashamed, she was afraid to let John see that ugly overgrown scared tissue, now formed keloid on her vagina.

What this means for Martha/How Keloid in the vagina can affect a person’s wellbeing and life:

  • Scar  which grows excessively into Keloid tissue can be embarrassing to the individual; create uneasiness.
  • Affects the person psychologically as she might feel less beautiful about herself.
  • Keloid tissue scar makes the skin around the area it occupies less elastic which can affect certain nerves causing pain.
  • Martha is likely to experience itching and  pain during urination, menstrual flow and sex.
  • Would her husband/partner be willing to accept her as she is. He might be turned off sexually and this will not do their relationship any good.
  • She might need a cosmetic surgery and the process of treating Keloid might be a long journey. That is the swollen tissue every clears completely.

This is one of the heartbreaking stories i came away with from a radio drama script writing workshop on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) organized by Unicef in partnership with the Ministry of information Nigeria. It was an eye-opening experience.

You know sometimes we think that we know so much about a subject or issue simply because it’s a familiar subject. I am very familiar with and have lend my voice to creating awareness about the effect of female circumcision known as female genital mutilation /cutting in the past. But statistics and real life stories told by facilitators and other participants showed that the consequences of female genitalmutilation/cutting is far deeper and grave than i thought.

One thing is clear that a lot still needs to be done about changing perceptions and achieving behavioral change towards the practice of Female genital mutilation/cutting.

Many women and families suffer great consequences long after the female genitalia cutting. #EndFGM/C

end-fgm

Why is this tradition and practice still been upheld in many communities around the world?

Some people have replaced genital cutting with another practice and they justify it. What is the new trend?

I will be sharing more stories from FGM/C world in a series of  posts.

Photo Credit: DHgate.com – Wedding Veil Cathedral Thick Lace Manthila bridal veil.

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

Shela’s Dad had a Frown on his Face

angry-dad-2

Wehena stared down at me and smiled. I tried to get up but dizziness engulfed me. She gave me a hot potion to drink from a calabash and told me to rest because I was with child. Shivering and in shock, I suddenly remembered what had happened between Manya and I the night before.

At last, I was going to have a child, now my husband would love me dearly, now the gossips would stop. Day by day my baby grew and Manya walked tall in the village. Wehena, brought food for me every now and then; she was proud that her first grandchild was on the way. We all looked forward to the arrival of this child. Finally the day came.

Manya held the baby smiling but there was a sad line around the corner of his mouth. We celebrated and named her, Shela . A few days later Mama visited me to shower some love on her first grandchild. She asked me about a scar she saw on my face, I told her it was just a farm work injury. Then she said, “Tarra, I hope you get pregnant soon again”. I laughed. “Come on mama Shela, is just a few days old, and I’m still healing up”. She smiled and told me that a woman can only earn respect and show the strength of her husband when she gives him a son. I had seen the shadow cross Manya’s face as he held his daughter the day she was born.

Excerpt from my short story, “Face in the Mirror”.

Every child  boy or girl is a great gift.

Many girls lift and hold the hands of their fathers at old age

Gender does not determine strength.

Photo Credit: Angry father Stock Photos

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Pleeeeese…what is the issue here: Don’t Marry a woman who can’t cook?

DO NOT MARRY A WOMAN WHO CAN NOT COOK?
DO NOT MARRY A MAN WHO HAS NO JOB?
Seriously why is this a trending issue?

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. I do not want to get into the argument but I do have a few frank things to say here:

A man may not necessarily marry a woman because she is a fantastic cook if I may say but seriously you need to know how to cook some good food as a woman.

WHY?
• You need to eat healthy
• You need to save some money for other things instead of having to visit the various eateries
• What exactly do you want to feed your children and family with…junks?
• And by the way won’t it be fun to be the one to teach both your son and daughter how to prepare delicious and well balanced meals…

My husband cooks and I cook and I am grateful to my mother in-law for being a good cook and teaching him how to cook.

• Why should my man know how to cook and I don’t…that’s letting men win again!!!
• I like the idea of been in charge of my kitchen

Believe it or not been a good cook is a big issue in some marriages so ladies you have to pay attention.

Don’t marry a man who has no job?

My take:

A man doesn’t have to have a seven digit paying job but he should be empowered enough to bring some money home to take care of his family.

Some women have found themselves in a bottled neck relationship where they handle all the bills…this is not funny! And lady you might not mind for a while because you are head over hills in love with him…soon it will become a source of tension and fights as bills pile up.

So think again before you tie the knot with a man who simply lives on empty promises of getting a job soon and you have been dating him for a year now.

Some women even pay all the wedding bills and the “dear husband” thinks it is going to be “wifey Christmas money” all the way. She struggles with it for thee rest of her marriage life.

I guess we all get to choose who we end up with in a marriage…the ball is in your court.

Love is blind but marriage is an eye opener. What you can not put up with later don’t keep managing it…it will only become a big issue later.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)