Nigeria recently went agog with shouts of joy following the victory of the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), making her the first African and first female to occupy the position in the 25 years existence of the organization.
Some Benue women who spoke with The Voice’s LUCY ACKANYON bared their minds on her elevation, how women can ascend to similar enviable positions and the roles Nigerian husbands should play to enhance the growth of women in the society.
Mrs. Victoria Okamgba, educationist.
I lack words to describe my feelings. Seeing a woman like me getting to a position like that is great. It means we (women) are gradually getting to somewhere, proving that women’s education do not end in the kitchen. It has proven that women are gradually taking over the global and soon, the positive change we have looked forward to, will be made possible by women. I am so proud to be a woman. It is high time Nigerian women maximize the potentials in them and take charge, because Ngozi has shown that Nigerian women have great potentials.
Her husband definitely played a very good role, without his support and encouragement, in my own believe, she wouldn’t have gotten to that level. For her to still be happily married to her husband and able to get there, it means that her husband played a vital role.
My advice to Nigerian men is to allow their wives to discover themselves, by supporting, advising and guiding them. Gone are the days when women were restricted from doing certain Jobs.
Like I said, Nigerian women should see their potentials, work towards achieving them by following the right channel which is hard work, dedication to their primary assignment and being focused and determined to always get to the next level. The sky will be their starting point.
Mavis Ngodoo Toryem, Female right activist
It’s a great feat and I feel so proud of her, she has done us (women) proud. Her appointment has further proven the saying that “what a man can do, a woman can do even better.” She was in the contest with seven men but she outshone them. She succeeded in putting not just the Nigerian woman but the African woman on the global stage – the world’s map. She has proven that it’s not just about sex(gender) but about what is in you and what you can offer, it’s not in the sex organ but in the sense organ.
It starts from upbringing. If every woman is given equal opportunity right from childhood, the tendency of them rising up to similar heights will be very high. Every child should be treated equally whether male or female. If Okonjo-Iweala had not been educated by her parent and had been married off as a teenager without formal education, she wouldn’t have been able to make a difference in the world today. Parents have a greater role to play in the life and future of their girl children.
Commitment, confidence, hardwork and determination are also required. You can’t talk about Dr. Okonjo-Iweala without noticing her determining spirit. Remember the US government during Trump’s administration stood against her candidacy as the consensus aspirant to the office she clinched today, but she never gave up. She is also someone that is very hardworking and hard work pays. She’s to the best of my knowledge an upright person too. More Nigerian women with aforementioned qualities, if given equal opportunities, can rise to similar heights.
Most men believe that its women that should play supportive roles, a man can also play a supportive role to his wife. Men should stop seeing their wives as their competitors. Most men get threatened by their wives’ achievements and it shouldn’t be so. Men should give their wives opportunity to express themselves and become who they are meant to be.
Marriage shouldn’t be a destiny killer or stumbling block for any woman. Every man should be a ladder for his woman to climb to the top. Men should give their wives wings to fly even if they had no wings before, support and encourage their wives to achieve their dreams. Men shouldn’t feel threatened but rather be proud of their wife’s desire to attain a feat in life. Your wife is not your competitor, she’s your partner in progress. Give her free hand to operate and express herself.
Mrs. Victoria Daor, development worker
I am elated and very happy at her appointment. A win for one woman is actually a win for all. I have no doubts that she will excel thereby paving the way for more confidence to be reposed in more women. Women face the challenge of patriarchy. We are in a society where a woman is expected to always be subservient to men. This affects how far a lot of women can go as any woman who wants to excel has to work extra hard and overcome the odds to be recognized.
Women also face the challenge of lack of encouragement and cooperation from fellow women which can be very disheartening.
Her husband must have been very supportive for her to rise to her current position. Being an accomplished man in his own right, he was not intimidated by his wife’s success. Every woman needs a supportive husband to move and achieve more.
Dorcas Uke, development worker.
I was excited and overwhelmed when I read and watched the news on social media. I thought to myself, Dorcas, you can do this too with zeal, determination and dedication to your course in this life. I quickly ex-rayed my daughter with the hope of courting her future to this enviable WTO Boss woman, even if I can’t get there.
The bitter pill here is, our society is bedeviled with unscrupulous notions determined to ridicule women aspiring greatness with dehumanizing appellations. We can only brave these challenges with determination, focused mind and tenaciously clinging unto ideas and women who have braved the odds. Anytime I hear the name Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, it is the husband that I see. Without his support, the WTO Boss would not have climbed this tall. As a married woman, I know for a fact that my husband holds the key to unlock and push me to greatness. I know women who are living in denial to achieve their goals as a result of husbands’ fears of exposure. I am where I am today because my husband has allowed me to. He has also been my great supporter and fan which is my motivation point. Nigerian men should take a cue from Mr. Iweala. The world will be a better place for us all.
Mrs. Philomena Wundu, Business Women
Nigerian husbands should first see the importance of women’s exposure. They should train their wives who are not trained well by their parents. Educate them on things they need to know, that is, allowing them to participate in public meetings and even in politics. Gone are the days when women’s education ended in the kitchen.