Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Its the annual Wimbiz conference in Abuja at the moment. Wimbiz is a corporate-women get together. All they really do is have the annual Abuja back-scratcher. It seems that everyone loves to hate Wimbiz - almost all the women I talk to bitch about it.

The problem seems to be that all they do is organise the once-yearly owambe at the Hilton. So the things you might think of that a women in business organisation could set up - mentorship schemes, training programmes, scholarships, fighting against the rampant sexual abuse in the corporate world (young female banking marketers are given a pack of condoms when they start work) etc. they do not do.

What irks is that they always have to invite men to speak as well. Women in Nigeria are often their own worst enemies - propagating the mother-wife aspect of their lives over everything else. There is a fundamental symbolic lack revealed by the men-speakers issue: the need for men to legitimate the proceedings. There is no such thing as sisterhood in Nigeria or value placed in a space apart for women here.

The trouble is, corporate women the world over tend to be unpolitical, if not depoliticised, and Nigerian corporate women are just part of the same pattern. The sad thing is that women in the West who have climbed rungs on the corporate ladder have done so because of radical feminists pushing at the social envelope continuously in decades gone by. Unfortunately, many young Western women have negative associations of feminism - such is the depths of their ignorance.

In Nigeria, there is no radical feminism, just as there's no radical politics in general. Wimbiz will do little to change the configuration, and feminism is a far off mirage in a far off desert. 50% of the population of Nigeria will continue to be disempowered, and to disempower themselves in the process.


Anonymous,  12:55 am  

(young female banking marketers are given a pack of condoms when they start work)

For once, I'm speechless.

Anonymous,  4:20 am  

is it so bad jeremy that the most important aspect of some womens lives is the fact that they are wives and mothers? is it so bad that some ppl are not self serving and choose to serve other people? (of course the problem arises when there is no reciprocity)

sometimes i dont know if you really understand what it is to be a wife or a mother...why are you belitting those who are...as if it is nothing

climbing up any rungs maybe not be some women's ideal...is it even yours? why does it seem like a corporate career must be primary in womens's lives?

Jeremy 9:38 am  

anonymous - yes it is. To the extent that women value motherhood and wifedom over all other life options and all other questions to be asked is to the extent that they are silently complicit with patriarchy - the system of values that insists on the ultimate power and prerogative assigned to men. It means they always have to have a man around to legitimate proceedings. It means they are not quite whole without a man.

And as I've said a zillion times before, contemporary evangelism in Nigeria always bangs on about women submitting to men, but NEVER about men submitting to women. So it is enormously problematic, and can only ever prolong inequity between the sexes.

The fact that you, like many other women (I assume you are such) do not even recognise patriarchy as problematic proves my point.

Women will continue to be sexually abused en masse at college and in the workplace in Nigeria, with options beyond marriage and kids closed down. And other women will do sod all about the bad things that happen to their sisters, wrapped up in their fantasies of perfection being defined as being wives and mothers.

The point is, being a wife or a mother is fine in itself, but what are you going to do to change the terribly vulnerable situation of most women in Nigeria?

Iheoma Obibi 12:10 pm  

Jeremy, thank god I am not the only one screaming about this. Things are about to change. I told Bibi that this week is the African Feminist Forum in Ghana www.africafeministforum.org and we envisage organising a meeting here in Nigeria.

I am a FEMINIST and not ashamed to call myself one, but you see. I am a little odd at times. There are very few of us who are not scared of being identified as feminists. Nigerian woman whether in the so-called women's movement or other wise still have a long way to go in untying the years of patriarchy and mental oppression they suffer from.

I always have to argue, it is not just about being married, it is not about having children, for gods sake we all have those. It is about a combination of opportunities and choices made available to you (we as women) and how these are utilised in making you (women) a better person and in living your life.

this is my take and oh, thanks for starting the debate. We have a long way to go. .

Anonymous,  1:46 pm  

Dear Anonymous,
I don't think any of you knows much about WIMBIZ so before making untrue conclusions. GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT.

WIMBIZ does mentoring programmes, scholarships, help get employment for women and most importantly these women are living proof that you can have it ALL...Career, Family, Home and the annual conference also shows they can have FUN too.

They have shown younger women that there is strenght in sumbiting to their husbands and not weakness.

So why don't you admire them instead of bitching about. And I'm a feminist too, for your information.

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