By Constance Meju
Emem Okon speaks
Women have been advised not to further dis-empower themselves by undermining the roles they play as mothers but assert power to fully achieve their potentials.
Executive director of Kebetkache Women development and Resource Center, Emem Okon at the Feminist School organized by the organization last December for community women leaders and some female civil society organization leaders.
She said the roles women play as care givers and nurturers are important and should provide basis for negotiation of more power within the home as one partner cannot function effectively without the other.
“We can negotiate power. Do not contribute to limiting yourself. You can have equal power as leaders in the House. There are always other powers helping to sustain the House without which the master cannot stand.
“Supportive role is always a leadership role. Understand that this defines your power and assert that power. Never undermine the role that you play. Home service is part of power which must be recognized and respected.
“Mutual understanding is necessary-the position of the mother is properly defined; everybody is contributing and there is no exploitation. Don’t surrender power and make the other party very powerful. Whatever is going on in the House depends on us as women so there is need for women to assert their power knowing that without your contribution, the other party is powerless”, the women advocate advised.
She noted that economic power also plays a role in determining how women are treated. “Economic power determines how you are treated as a woman” and called for attention on how micro and macro-credit facilities can boost the state of women and bring them out of the Master’s House.
‘‘Many women are abandoned in the hospitals for delivering only female babies, leaving volunteers and nurses to help offset the bill because the women do not have economic power.
“Coming out of the Master’s House is necessary as it gives you access to freedom from slavery, gives you room to be who you were created to be and develops your potentials”.
Emem Okon listed as objectives of the two-day feminist School programme, “to build women’s leadership power for participation in women’s movement in Africa, strengthen existing women initiatives or social networks through solidarity and linkages with regional and international networks, improve the quality of gender analysis and information coming out of the Niger Delta (information to expand our activities and knowledge on with related international organs).
According to her, “Feminism prioritizes the empowerment of women and other marginalized gender, the transformation of gender power relation and the advancement of gender equality within a change intervention and, believes that change that does not advance the rights and status of women is not real change at all”.
The feminist School ideology states that societal structuring of masculine and feminine roles which places men as strong, leaders with authority and limitless opportunity and women as weak, subjective, denies them opportunities and rights, limits women from achieving their potentials and contributing to society as equal partners for better development.
“Feminism ensures equal rights and opportunities and is about making women overcome patriarchy. It is about breaking away from limiting traditions; breaking away from the Master’s House-no limitations.
“Feminism is a movement for advocating for equality between men and women, creating wider space for women’s voices to be heard as equal partners in society, giving women equal space in government and the community.
“Feminism is about looking at opportunities for women as limitless, accepting the right to be everywhere; not trusting too much authority to you man, speaking up, taking up decision-making positions, accepting challenges, taking charge, owning land, going into enterprise, moving up from friendship to headship’, part of the course stated.
Feminism is about looking at opportunities for women as limitless, accepting the right to be everywhere; not trusting too much authority to your man, speaking up, taking up decision-making positions, accepting challenges, taking charge, owning land, going into enterprise, moving up from friendship to headship.
Under the feminist ideology Economic interventions that increase household incomes without giving women greater share of that income or altering the gender division of labour in the question of that income are not acceptable.
Feminism also targets improvements in the healthcare that do not address the specific barriers that may prevent women from accessing healthcare.