It has sometimes been said and it is still being maintained in some quarters that a woman’s duty is simply to serve her husband, bring up children, cook, clean, sew and so on; that she is specially suited for this and not sufficiently strong or intelligent for other forms of work.
A careful examination of the above statement will reveal to any careful observer of world current affairs that the statement is not entirely true and that it is merely others, weeping assertion. I may concede two points to those who wrongly hold the view as contained in the opening paragraph of this article. The two points are firstly, the idea has got its root right back in the primitive times when the development of the human race mentally was only a little higher than that of the apes. In those days the available means of existence demanded that the man should go into the bush in wild pursuit of roots, fruits and animals while the woman who is less wild in nature and less physically endowed had to sit at home to do domestic work. But the life of modern times has become so complex that different talents and capabilities which are naturally not the exclusive preserve of men are needed before what is regarded as civilized life is enjoyed.
In the second place, I can concede that even in modern world the place a woman occupies in a society depends mainly on the attitude of that society to its womenfolk. In some societies, the talents and capabilities of women are not given free play to compete with those of their men counterparts.
This is done by restricting the amount of education parents or governments allow their female children; whereas education is the surest way of determining the actual worth a man or a woman can contribute to the civilization and higher standards of living of the human race. To be realistic in looking at the nature of women in the light of the modern world, an important and unprejudiced conclusion should be that it is nature that has imposed on her sex – the home and the rearing of children. Apart from this, she is basically as efficient and could even be more efficient than a man in any task for which both of them have received the same type of training. The concept that men and women are equal was recognised as early as 400 B.C. by some Greek philosophers.
In modern times, we read of women like Bandaranaike, the first woman Prime Minister in the world, Mrs. Indira Ghandi, the former woman Prime Minister of India, and of Golda Meir, the Israeli woman Foreign Minister, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady and former Bristish Prime Minister. This is only in the realm of politics. In other walks of life especially in the professions – medicine, education and so on, women compete with men and we even read of women like Mrs Dora Akunyili, Mrs Farida Waziri and among others in today’s Nigeria.
The idea that women’s place in the society is only domestic and child rearing is parochial, conservative and at best only relative. In any progressive society where a woman shows an aptitude which can contribute to the advancement of the human race, such a society will not hesitate to allow such a woman to occupy her rightful place and her talents given a free atmosphere for its full play. Children-bearing by women is natural and does not render it impossible for them to take such other places in the society as their abilities render them fit.
There is an adage which says, “as you make your bed, so you lie on it.” It should teach women that in a society where no social inhibitions are placed on their way, those of them who remain domestic servants, cooks, serving mistresses and the likes only deserve to be so because they have not shown abilities for better and higher posts.
Ike wrote ro Anambra State, University