Nigerian Lives: 5 Ladies Tell Us What It Is Like Being A Woman In Nigeria

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As a woman, living in Nigeria can be quite the experience with the majority of women dealing with some form of discrimination and harassment. In honour of International Women’s Day, celebrated today, the 8th of March, we reached out to five women to tell us what it’s like to be a female living in Nigeria. Here is what they had to say:

Rae, 32

So far, it has its pros and cons but more cons. Basically women in Nigeria are treated as second class citizens and to some extent you have to put in twice as much effort to prove that you are worth it. Sometimes, being a woman can help you get jobs faster than men. People tend to employ women because they are more proactive, more emotionally balanced and they can actually multitask around personal events and corporate events. The same can not be said for trying to get an apartment in Nigeria as a woman which is pretty crazy. You have to prove that you have a man in your life or you are engaged. You need a male figure in your life to get a property. When you have a car, to an extent when the policeman stops you, they expect you to say it’s your husband’s car. They don’t expect that women should be able to have access to the basic amenities or “the good life” which I feel is not as fair. Women get judged easily while men get applauded for being badly behaved. When women do a fraction of what men do, we get punished for that which is not fair. In all, women are strong and most have been able to pull through while trying to get through work; for single mothers while trying to take care of their kids and juggling other areas of their life. Nigerians as a whole should learn to treat women better.

Kam, 25

I have gotten discriminating and derogatory comments as a woman. However, I describe them as challenging, not bad. I experienced my first discrimination in secondary school. I was in SSS3 at the time. This teacher walked into the class and asked if anyone could draw. A guy and I put our hands up. I raised my hand because I am good at drawing and painting. I started hearing muttering; turns out my classmates were wondering, “how can a girl draw better than a girl”. I was shocked that people would think like that. We were both given the opportunity to draw and I was just as good as the guy or even better. Sometimes when I go to the mall, I run into guys offering to help me with my bag telling me that I should not be carrying heavy things because I am a lady. I always let them know that being a lady does not mean I can not carry my own bag. They feel being a woman means you are too weak and should not do certain difficult things. I go to the market and it’s like you are constantly trying to save yourself from wheelbarrow pushers and the market men. They catcall, grab your arm and when you pay them no mind or refuse to look at them, they start insulting you. When you get into the market to buy stuff and you are haggling for the price, they tell you to stop haggling like a woman. You can not dress how you want to because you will get shamed for trying to seduce men. It is crazy that I can not dress freely because I am a woman.

Kessy, 25

I have learnt to be extra alert in Lagos specifically. I have to be on my toes all the time, looking over my shoulder. I feel like the average woman in Nigeria has to be super careful and vigilant in order to avoid falling prey to danger. I face certain challenges at work with people being sexist. However, it is kind of a challenge when people undermine or underestimate you because you are a woman. They refuse to give you the opportunity to speak out or prove your worth. You have to work extra to prove that you are actually capable of achieving as much as the man. I am just me trying to survive, keep up my head above water and protect myself.

Edidiong, 22

Being a woman in Nigeria has been toxic, chaotic and dramatic. I recently left work to buy food for lunch at a restaurant. We were there first then some men walked in demanding to be attended to first since we are women and should have cooked at home before going to work. They basically said we had no business buying restaurant food. I was ready to fight if the person in charge gave in to the men because we had been sitting for almost an hour. I hate the whole entitlement to a woman’s body culture we have here. I am walking on the road and people are cat-calling me. When I ignore them, they insult me. Men reach out to me telling me they want to hook up. The harassment has been terrible.

Champ, 22

During my course of learning how to DJ, my boss refused to let me carry speakers and heavy equipment. I was the only female apprentice at the time. I decided to push myself to assist guys when my boss was not around. I hate that I can not wear skimpy clothes or crop tops in the streets of Lagos because people would say mean stuff to you. I can not walk freely late at night. I used to have no problems with working at night until my friend got raped. I don’t know if it’s PTSD but I can not move around at night without worrying if someone will creep up on me, rape or kidnap me. At home, my brothers always want to provide for me so that men will not treat me anyhow because of money. As much as it is amazing being a woman in Nigeria, it is also scary.

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