Exactly a week ago, the world celebrated the International Women Day. An article l had seen with regards to the event, formed the crux of my discussion with a group of ladies. One of us who had been silent for the most part, blurted, ‘’ l can’t believe l am still here eight years after graduation.’ She went ahead to bemoan the fact that after her service year, she had wanted to go back to school for her masters but was told to jettison the plan for a walk down the aisle with her Man.
‘You already have a degree. You also have a serious relationship. Why not settle down first? School can wait for now. After your marriage and one or two kids, you can go back to school,’ her mother and close relatives, advised. Some of her friends agreed.
‘School can wait. Get married first. Don’t you know that getting a Masters before settling down, may scare your husband away? Men do not like a woman who is well-read o, ’ they admonished her.
So since she already had a man who seemed serious about her, she decided to listen. The school was kept on the back burner. Besides, that wasn’t the first time she would be told that after graduating from the university, the next thing a woman should think of, is marriage. Unfortunately, three years post NYSC, her relationship packed up. Some of her friends had started getting married and worry began to set in. After another failed relationship which took another two years, she decided it was time to go back for that Masters she had abandoned because she wanted to get married. She is presently running the programme but feels bad that she sacrificed precious time on the altar of a marriage that never was.
She opened a floodgate with her story. Almost every one of us could relate. We had fallen into that dogma that tied a woman’s worth in society, to marriage. Once upon a time, we believed that no matter how educated or well placed a woman is in the society, without marriage, she was nothing. If it had ended at that, we would have probably been better off. But we had also accepted that the more educated a woman is, the more difficult it would be for her to get a husband. What was all the education in the world without a man? Hence a group of smart, intelligent women had individually locked up their dreams and thrown the keys into the pool of “Wannabe Mrs.” Luckily, some of us had retrieved their keys and gone back to school. The rest decided to do the same. It hurt a lot when we talked about all the wasted years and all the things we could have achieved.
Now, those ladies represent a larger number of women who have also been conditioned by family and society to believe that marriage is the biggest achievement a woman should aim to attain in life. Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is a very good and desirable thing but we can do better if we started teaching our daughters that a woman’s life should not revolve around making herself marriage ready only. Our parents may have drummed it into our heads that marriage is what makes a woman complete but we can do better with our daughters. We need to do better. I, for one, will not give my daughter the impression that all there is to her existence on earth, is marriage. I will teach my daughter that, though marriage is a good thing, her growth and self-development are equally important.
Our daughters should dream dreams that do not revolve around marriage alone. We should not be so busy preparing them for marriage that we fail to realise that they have their ambitions and plans that may well not have marriage in it. They need to be taught the importance of finding purpose and relevance in a fast-evolving world that is bound to leave them behind if they are not relevant. Their skills should not only be identified with cooking and homemaking.
Their skills could be more. Thankfully, more and more women are breaking barriers and getting into fields that were once regarded as sole preserves. Our daughters should be trained to be counted among those women who have been trained not to be liabilities but assets to their families and the society at large.
We need to teach our daughters that even without the tag of a ‘Mrs’ they will be perfectly fine. They should understand that nothing is wrong with them if they decide not to make marriage a priority just yet. We need to change the status quo by doing better with our daughters than our parents did for us. That way, they would grow up into strong independent women who would have been groomed to understand that the value of a woman goes beyond her ability to get married and raise children.
The future is now. Our daughters need to understand that time is precious and should not be wasted waiting for a marriage that may not come when they want.
The future is female. The girl child needs to be adequately prepared. That can only happen when we break the status quo and do better with our daughters.
The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org