In most African traditions, the male child is more appreciated and valued than the female child. So much that, in a situation where the wife continues to bear female children, the man is allowed to take more wives to remedy the situation. And others who do not want a polygamous marriage, divorce their wife and marry another.
For this reason, male children are often celebrated more than female children- that is if they (the female children) are celebrated at all. And this mind set conceived right from birth does not remain or probably die at birth. It is carried on throughout the lives of these children. As they grow, the boys are given priority over the girls. They are always considered first in terms of education, employment etc. For instance, if a family has limited resources and they are contemplating educating their children, the male child goes first even when the female is the oldest. Some even with abundant resources just do not see the need. The common assumption is that, educating the female child is a total waste of time and resources because her place is in the kitchen and that is where she will end up after all. As a result, female children are confined to domestic chores, making it quite difficult for them to realise their potentials.
Contrary to this misconception, educating female children is not a waste at all. Fact is, it has proven to be rewarding as it benefits the girl herself, the society and the world at large. On a general note, education contributes to the growth of the economy, national productivity and innovation. Whether a girl or a boy is educated, this fact remains. So why choose one over another?
Amina Mohammed is one of the women who has proven wrong, all individuals and tribes who neglect the female child, thinking educating her is a waste of time and resources.
She was born in Gombe State, North-Eastern Nigeria in 1961 to a Nigerian veterinarian-herdsman and a British nurse. She is the eldest of five daughters with a humble upbringing in the Lake Chad region.
Determined never to let her background put her back to the ground, she has worked very hard and her hard work has paid off. For instance, between 1981 and 1991, she worked with Archcon Nigeria in association with Norman and Dawbarn United Kingdom and in 1991, she founded Afri-Projects Consortium, a multidisciplinary firm of Engineers and Quantity Surveyors and from 1991-2001, she was its executive director of the firm.
She has served in numerous other capacities like serving as the Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Post-2015 Development Planning. She was appointed to this position on June 7, 2012 and currently, she is the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN.
Amina Mohammed has been working in the field of development for more than 30 years both in the public sector and the private sector. Prior to her current appointment, she was the CEO and founder of the Think Tank Centre for Development Policy Solutions. She had previously worked as senior adviser to the past presidents of Nigeria (Late Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan) on Millennium Development Goals for six years. In this position, she was in charge of designing and developing government projects to reduce poverty around the country. Between 2002 and 2005, she worked in the United Nations Millennium Project as a coordinator of the Task Force on Gender and Education.
Some of the awards she has won include the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2006 and she was inducted in the Nigerian Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007. In October 2015, she was nominated as one of the ministers to be screened by the National Assembly under President Buhari’s administration. She was eventually confirmed and appointed the minister for Environment. She is one of the six women who was appointed a minister under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the World Bank, “girls’ education goes beyond getting girls into school. It is also about ensuring that girls learn and feel safe while in school; complete all levels of education with the skills to effectively compete in the labour market; learn the socio-emotional and life skills necessary to navigate and adapt to a changing world; make decisions about their own lives; and contribute to their communities and the world”. It says about the importance of educating the female child, “girls’ education is a strategic development priority. Better educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labour market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age and enable better health care and education for their children, should they choose to become mothers. All these factors combined can lift household, communities and nations out of poverty”.
We often hear the saying that he who educates a man, educates an individual but he who educates a woman, educates a nation but have we really taken time to think deeply about what this really mean? Well, now is the time to do so for in the words of Margaret Thatcher, “if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman”.
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