Third wave feminism from a millennial’s perspective

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I recently published an article in the Huffington Post about African feminists and received mixed reviews. While everyone agreed it was a good piece, many gave me the “so you are a feminist talk?”

I responded in the affirmative and smiled when a friend remarked feminists were the opposite of alpha-males.

In an attempt to end these conversations, I usually conclude with these words “Yes I am a feminist and I will get married.” Alas, this proclamation often leads to further discussions bordering on feminism and marriage.

I insert a smiley face and reply “I fell in love with a good man”, before further explaining that marriage is a personal decision. I cite examples of married African feminists including author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who is married to Ivana Esege, professor Amina Mama married to Nuruddin Farah and Bisi Fayemi married to Kayode Fayemi and the list goes on.

Analyzing comments I received from my article, I came to the conclusion that there are many assumptions about what feminism is.

Let me give a little education.

Feminism speaks about equal opportunities for men and women in all spheres of life.  It is not a gathering of men-hating and ambition-loving, unmarried women.

Being a feminist doesn’t in any way mean I woke up one fine morning with ‘feminist’ imprinted on my forehead. It’s simply a result of having strong opinions on issues and tending to gravitate towards strong women characters in books, movies and real life. I truly didn’t know the word was feminism not until much later.

Even as a person not inclined to appreciating labels, yet I do not mind being part of the third wave of a movement that seeks the well-being of humanity by promoting the cause of women.

Third wave feminism and social media

Feminism did not start with social media. It has always been and is now in its third wave. First wave feminism focused on the de-domestication of women. The second wave focused on the gender pay gap and the oppressive systems of acceptable standards of beauty. While with third wave feminism, millennials find themselves riding and focusing on the same issues as the second wave.

This wave of feminism is strongly characterized by the use of communication especially social media to raise awareness on women issues. Remember #HeForShe?

Being a third wave feminist, it is hilarious to see certain issues promoted by “topic inspired feminists” under the banner of feminism on social media. Honestly, not everything is a feminist topic.

The Noble Igwe #WifeNotCook debacle was hilarious. When I was asked to comment on it, I was of the opinion that who gets to cook depends on what angle parties concerned view their relationship. It really is not a topic that calls for liberation from male domination.

What are real third wave feminists discussing on social media?

While I understand the goodwill attached to the promotion of certain matters under feminism, it is important we recognize what issues are being discussed in third wave feminism.

For those who have feminist mothers, as third wave feminists, we are very much our mothers’ feminism. We still seek change and equality as found in the second wave.

However, despite our similarities, our difference is borne out of our use of media, especially social media to start conversations online and offline. These conversations include discussions on equal opportunities including politically, socially and economically. We raise awareness and educate  the public on sexism, calling for the inclusion of women in political spaces and sharing female success stories.

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Our discussions take this nature because many still see women as properties and ultimate block-heads. I once had a lecturer who openly admitted women where a burden fit for mostly house work and children.

I have also come across a lot of educated men in the corporate sector; educated being they have more than a college degree, who dare their spouses to contradict them in any form. Marriage is not a partnership to them, it’s a place to flex their alpha-male egos.

Marriage and the millennial

I am of the opinion that marriage should be a partnership built on respect, love, and support for one another and I encourage people to see it at such. Healthy marriages lead to healthy homes filled with love and laughter. One would think with all the benefits of a partnership based marriage, educated men would embrace it.

While social media is being used as a platform for discussions about women issues, conventional media is still stereotypical about women. Watching the Olympics, I noticed the commentary about women winners have been sexist, undercutting female achievements and turning the lens on their husbands.

Yes, by all means, acknowledge the men but do not turn away the spotlight from the winners. I observed there was no commentary about the wives of male winners.

While I respect freedom of perspective, the above category of people make me wonder. What kind of world would we live in if egoistic individuals had the power to map out destinies?

The Olympics coverage, people I have met online and offline and other daily encounters are the reason why feminism is still relevant. Narratives about women need to change. The stories about women achievers should be told in its entirety as a success story without gender bias.

As a millennial African feminist, I agree with Chimamanda Adichie that we should all be feminists and be proud of this label. There is totally nothing wrong in being part of something directed towards a greater good.

I conclude this write up with a quote from Australian feminist scholar Dale Spencer’s book – Man Made Language;

“Feminism has fought no wars.  It has killed no opponents.  It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties.

Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions… for safety on the streets… for child care, for social welfare… for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,”  I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”.

What Jhene Aiko showed us about divorce in Nigeria

Remember the not-so-shocking end of Jhene Aiko’s marriage to her Nigerian husband, DotdaGenius? It really brought to the forefront how most Nigerians view divorce.

The lessons to learn from this bitter and public divorce are numerous. Let’s look at what not to do when a relationship goes sour.

Don’t ever feel the need to air your dirty laundry in public

For absurd reasons like getting “support”, even if it’s from outsiders, people tend to share more than they should.  Jhene Aiko sort of did this on social media after the divorce news broke.

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Rather than do this, how about settling the rift(s) with the other party without the prying eyes of people who may not really care?

Especially as we all agree that there’s some sanctity to marriage. Your value kind of diminishes when you give third parties undue vested interests in your business.

Infidelity

Being in an unhappy marriage is better imagined, especially when a partner is cheating.

But cheating to get back at the spouse is never the best solution to an already terrible situation.

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Playing the two-can-play-the-game revenge tactic is never the way to go. Rather than cheat, please girl, opt out!

Fear

Nigerian women have this inexplicable fear of divorce. This may have been fueled by the myth that kids from “broken homes” don’t make good homes themselves. Unfortunately, there is still a never-ending stigma associated with divorce.

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How some people react when they hear “divorce”

Nigerians have a way of labeling divorcees (especially women) as rude and not submissive. It’s always the woman’s fault.

Making women feel this way because a marriage didn’t work, has made a lot of women stay in unhappy relationships “for the kids”. No one wants to be stereotyped unfairly.

Starting over

Marriage offers some form of validation for women in Nigeria, and maybe even other parts of Africa. It is believed that irrespective of what a woman achieves, she is nothing without a man.

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Owing to these beliefs, even otherwise strong women would rather stay in a loveless marriage while enduring being treated badly or even cheated on.

In conclusion, Nigerian women need to realise that a divorce can never be the end of one’s life. Everyone is entitled to a new beginning and even after a divorce, there’s still hope.

There you have it, ladies, it’s time to have a fresh outlook on love and relationships, and  marriage.

5 wedding planning tips for the business savvy bride

Have you recently gotten engaged? Congratulations! Are you deep in the trenches of the madness that is planning a wedding? E-hug. I had no idea what I was getting into when I began to plan my wedding. Prior to getting engaged, I had invested little to no time envisioning my wedding, and I generally dreaded attending weddings (with some exceptions). What I have always enjoyed though, is research and strategic planning. Likewise, when it was time to plan my wedding, I treated it like I would any professional project.

It’s been a year since I got married and with the rear view mirror in sight, here are 5 tips I would give any #BossBride:

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1. Develop your wedding brand

To begin my wedding research, I followed major wedding sites like Bella Naija on social media. I pored through every single post on blogs like Aisle Perfect and bought books like Vogue Weddings: Brides, Dresses, Designers. Once I had a better grasp of things, it was time to decide on my wedding brand. What will my wedding look like? What will it feel like? I asked myself these questions because I didn’t want my wedding to be a copy-and-paste smorgasbord of every trend. It was especially important to me to have a bit of my personality stamped on the wedding.

Accordingly, I put together a concept note describing my vision for my wedding (aka #Blavid2015). I have always been passionate about the arts and I created my vision around this. Both my traditional and ‘white wedding’ were like mini-concerts: I had traditional dancers, a choir, musicians, a quartet and poetry reading. Of course several things went wrong on my wedding —but what most people (hopefully) remembered, was the music and the ambiance.

 

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2. Get the budget figured out early

A vision without the finances to execute it is pretty much useless, so it’s important to get the finances figured out early. While the bride’s family traditionally pays for the wedding in Western countries like America, this is not always the case across the African continent. My husband and I come from different Nigerian cultures, with different traditional rules about who pays for the wedding. Thus, it was important for both families to discuss who was paying for what and decide on the budget early in the process. Getting a budget together will require getting various price quotes and a lot of prioritization, so it’s best to get an early head start.

3. Do not waste your human capital

Once I had a vision and a budget, it was time to figure out who would help me execute my vision. Beyond the usual suspects like my maid-of-honor and best friends; my mother and I delegated tasks and asked favors from whoever asked what they could do to help (perhaps to their shock, Ha!).

For example: a family friend who owns a marketing firm designed our logo and handled the programs; another who is a creative helped design my wedding website and invitations. One of my photographer friends did my engagement shoot, and another friend with a hair business hooked me up with a great hair extensions. A former family chauffeur organized a tour of the city for our foreign guests, and my brother-in-law’s fiancé made our bridal train proposals. I could go on and on, but the point here is: #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork.

 

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All you need is a few people that have your back!

4. Beware of social media vendors

Beautiful Instagram feeds do not a good vendor make. Some vendors spend so much time boosting their social media profile that they neglect their actual products and customer service. Additionally, particularly in Africa, some of the best vendors might not be social media savvy or on the Internet at all. No matter how many popular wedding hashtags a vendor is affiliated with, no matter how many blogs rave about a vendor, no matter if a vendor is a family member or friend —do not choose a vendor whose work you have not seen, touched, tasted, heard, etc.

 

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My cake baker did not have a social media presence, but she delivered!

5. Negotiate your contracts like a CEO

I shamelessly negotiated prices with every vendor I worked with and they all gave discounts. Two of the most stupid mistakes I made however, were paying some vendors 100% upfront and not insisting on written contracts. As a lawyer, I am very ashamed to admit this. I blame my desperation to book these vendors and what I’ll call PWSS (Pre-Wedding Stress Syndrome).

One vendor failed to deliver on almost everything he had promised—it nearly brought me to tears at my reception. When I wrote to him after the wedding, he apologized and explained that a bus with some of the materials he needed had not arrived on time. One year later, a promised refund remains buried in a labyrinth of excuses and justifications. I wanted to sue, but my pastor-mother insisted on leaving it all to God. The moral of this story: a) protect yourself by insisting on paying a balance after the wedding, and b) document all your expectations in a detailed contract.

giphyA final note: flexibility and adaptability are important skills for any seasoned professional or entrepreneur in today’s world. The same applies to a wedding: you may have to make concessions to make your family, in-laws and partner happy. I was resistant to some things at first (Type A problems), but I eventually realized that I would have a much happier wedding if all the important parties had some buy-in. I also rolled with the punches—or danced with them, I should say. I decided I would be happy on my wedding day no matter what, and for every mishap I noticed, I danced a bit harder. By the end of my reception, my curls were undone, my foundation had bled, and I had danced my happy heart out.

 

Ifedolapo Olayemi-Okewole: A woman should be happy on her wedding day

Here comes the bride! She may be looking kind of stressed but it’s her big day. Preparing for a wedding can be hectic but thanks to the Internet, brides can ease the burden a bit. Hadassah Bridals is a growing brand that delivers wedding gowns to brides through its website. Its founder Ifedolapo Olayemi-Okewole recently completed a World Bank-sponsored course at the Enterprise Development Centre at Lagos Business School. Here she shares tips on running an online business in Nigeria and how to make the most out of your wedding day.


Who is the person behind Hadassah Bridals?

My name is Ifedolapo Olayemi-Okewole. I’m the woman behind Hadassah Bridals, a business that came to being in December, 2012. The idea for this business was birthed in Manchester, UK in 2012, a year after I got married. I recall that it was my experience as a bride that was at the heart of this business idea. I had a very tight schedule during preparations for my wedding.

When I was doing my wedding shopping, I didn’t have the luxury of time and resources to visit a lot of stores for wedding gown trials and the likes. I did most of my shopping online and I received all my packages in good condition, including my wedding gown.

Our business idea then was to make wedding dresses of different varieties available to brides online and at reasonable prices. So we decided to offer bridal gowns of very good quality and designs to target this class of brides.

We stock our gowns from other designers; we also have options for custom-made wedding gowns. Custom-made wedding gowns are made based on the specifications of the bride. This gives the bride the opportunity to add a lot of details to her dream wedding gown. We take such requests and forward to our designers.

Why the name Hadassah?

The name ‘Hadassah’ is from the Bible. Its one of Esther’s names (Esther 2:7) and it means Compassion.

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Tell us a bit about your experience with the World Bank sponsored program.

The program is a Certificate in Entrepreneurship Management sponsored by the World Bank.  I won the Women X scholarship last year. I took that step because I needed hone my entrepreneurial skills. I was not sure I was doing everything according to the books. A friend sent me the application details online and I applied. An interview was conducted and about 50 women were selected for my class, which was Cohort 4 in the Women X scholarship program.

The 6 months in-class training changed my perspective totally on business and living a fulfilling life. I met women who were in different stages in business and this made me realise that I am not alone in the entrepreneurship drive. The school faculty was and is still highly supportive because they provide us platforms for business growth.

As a Nigerian company based online, how do you make effective sales?

Our idea is to understand our market sector and develop strategies online to reach them. Because we started online, we use a lot of the social media platforms for sales. This is complimented with an open cart-enabled website. We also use eCommerce stores like Konga and Kaymu to drive sales.

What online platforms do you use to cater to your clientele? Have you had any challenges with them?

Over the years, we have built a robust BBM channel. This has our largest followership and has become a critical platform for our business outreach. Customers place orders via our BBM channel or Whatsapp Social chat platform. We also use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest for our social media campaigns.

We have a physical store in Ifako, Gbagada, where we also attend to customers.

_I1C3153Most online Nigerian businesses focus on Abuja or Lagos, how do you reach clients in other/smaller cities and towns?

We can confidently say today that we have a clientele that is widely spread from Maiduguri in Northern Nigeria to Bayelsa in the South-South region and from Cuba to cities in Europe and South Africa. This has been made possible through our online platform and partnership with a leading courier company like Courier Plus. They handle our door step deliveries to all the states in Nigeria, and also our international shipments.

How can a woman make the most of her wedding day?

A woman should be happy on her wedding day. She is the center of attraction and she dictates the mood of the event. A vibrant bride makes for an enjoyable ceremony. One of the things I tell my brides is to ensure that they have light breakfasts on their wedding day. The wedding day is filled with a lot of activities and the bride often forgets that part.

What old wives tale should all brides listen to at all costs?

One old wives tale is, “don’t look at the mirror when dressing up on your wedding day”. Uh, how easy is this? A bride wants to know what magic the makeup artist is performing on her face but I think she’s better off being told that she is beautiful so she doesn’t get too conscious of her face on her wedding day.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Role models for the woman who doesn’t want kids

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It’s time for a brutally honest conversation. Some women don’t want kids. Being a parent is just one of the many roles that women can play. I particularly feel angry when women are pushed into or forced to be parents when they have no intention, inclination or desire to be mothers. Parenting, including having kids, should be a matter of choice. A child does not want or need a reluctant or frustrated parent.

As women, we are human beings first with desires, ambitions, talents, skills and purpose. For those of us who choose nurturing as their primary goal be the best you can be, it’s a choice! Personally I preferred to have my children in my 20s as they are important in my life path. However, we should all respect that women have a different paths through which to contribute to society. Sometimes this does not include having kids. If you’ve felt alone by not feeling any maternal desires, this list of prominent childless women will remind you that you are not.

Rosa Parks, Civil-Rights Activist 

Rosa Parks is famous for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Jim Crow era US. Her defiance lead her to became a symbol for the Civil Rights and she later received national recognition for her work as an activist.

Oprah Winfrey, Media proprietor and philanthropist

Oprah is undoubtedly the Queen of media. She doesn’t need an introduction, we know that she is the richest African American of our time and possibly the greatest black philanthropist in history.

judge-13214-mainRoselyn Naliaka Nambuye, Kenyan High Court Judge

The Court of Appeal judge with over 30 years experience in law, Roselyn was the chair of the Kenya Women Judges Association. She created scholarship for destitute children and is also known participate in communal activities like funerals and harambees.

Billie Holiday, Singer and songwriter

The iconic singer of the blues, Billie Holiday never had children. She pioneered new forms of singing and is known for her voice which captured her audience’s attention completely.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, 2005-now 

The number 1 most powerful woman in world this year, according to Forbes, Angela Merkel is the first woman leader of the Christian Democratic Union party and the first woman Chancellor of Germany.

Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State 2005-2009 

Condoleezza Rice was the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor and the first African-American woman to be Secretary of State. Condoleezza is also a professor of political sciene affiliated with Stanford University.

For those who just don’t want to have children now, remember that child bearing can be deferred until even your forties. This can allow you to pursue any other ambitions you may have during the “prime” of you life (that is between the ages of 25 to 35) .

 

When is the right time to tie the knot?

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This is question that runs through just about every girl’s mind once she counted as a woman. In the 70’s, women were often married off by the time they were 18-years-old, even earlier when cultural norms were considered. If you were 25 and still unmarried, you were seen as an old spinster. Emphasis on the word “old”. But after the 70’s, the average age at which women got married only continued to rise instead of falling despite terms like, “old spinster”. This happened across the world as the dynamics around what and who a woman was as well as what her duties and limitations are began to shift.

The historical angle

There was a point in time when the status a woman got was solely attached to her father’s name and her husband’s after that. For this reason, I think women, even those born into families with strong reputable names, made sure that they married into status. This had to be done as soon as possible, of course before all the good men with the good names got swept up.

But once women were able to get their own jobs, make their own money and demand more respect than they were only able to in previous times and environments, there was a sudden shift. Women had more liberties then and the need to achieve more for themselves outside the aspects of family grew. What all this has done in subsequent years is, it’s made more and more women think about themselves, their own name, reputations, careers, and futures. But we still yearn for companionship. We still want that place in a family as wife and mother.

A right time to tie the knot?

But is there a right time to tie that knot? Everyone has an opinion about when the right time is and their own reasons for backing it. Your grandmother might say the moment you turn 20 you are ready. Your auntie, the nosy one who’s in everyone’s face, might say when you’re 24. Your mother might say when you’re done with school. But when are you done with school? You get your first degree, and then perhaps your second. Then your masters and then suddenly getting a PhD seems like the next best option. There will be those people who will say that you just must marry before your eggs “grow old” and preferably before you turn 30, the apparent age when everything in your body starts to shut down, so that you can have kids and be young with your children.

“You don’t want to have to run after a 5-year-old when you’re an old and tired,” they will say. But now technology has given us a way to preserve our eggs, get sperm donors, use surrogates and along with the increased awareness and great regard for fitness and nutrition, this reason to tie the knot earlier rather than later has started to weigh less than it did before. More women are adjusting their timelines for just about everything.

What does the public say?

I went out to see what the Ugandan public thought was the right time to tie the knot. One lady I spoke to felt that any time is the right time when you’ve met the right person and are physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially ready to take that step while another without hesitation replied 28. One unmarried guy seemed to agree with this adding that you need to be at a place where you are willing and able to provide for a family. When the married people, both women and men, were asked for their opinion however, they had this to say,

“The time is right just when it is. There is no formula when it comes to emotions.”

“You’ll never have enough money. If you love her and she loves you back and you both see each other in each other’s lives long term, get married”

“You’ll never be perfect and rounded in all the ways you want to be. If you’re both on the same wavelength and love each other, just do it.”

“After you have found yourself and your centre because if it is because if your reason for marrying is loneliness then you’re making a big mistake. Loneliness is a spiritual, emotional condition.”

After considering the replies of happily married people, we can with some confidence, say this much. Before you join yourself in holy matrimony with someone else, make sure you are happy, fulfilled, whole, healthy as an individual and ready to give 100%. There is no certain universal time when a person is at this place in their lives. Despite all this, marriage is an institution that requires two whole persons not two half empty vessels.

When is the right time to tie the knot? You decide.

Young women and marriage: 3 conversations we keep having

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Some days ago on a road trip to IITA Ibadan for my company’s annual retreat, there was this huge debate between what I have chosen to call the new school modern family values enthusiasts and the old school traditional family values enthusiasts, over married women and their career choices/decisions.

It was a long and interesting conversation, voices were raised, opinions flew back and forth, words were exchanged (although with no ill intents), feelings and sentiments were bruised, perspectives were vehemently challenged and even faith was questioned. At the end of the trip (and as such the conversation), there was no victor and no vanquished, proving (yet again) that:

Opinions are formed over time, experiences and the accumulation of a body of knowledge and it takes more than one heated conversation to get people to change those opinions.

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Back to the reason we are all gathered here today, I think that because of my age, most of the conversations I have with family, friends, acquaintances and even colleagues are pivoted around, you-guessed-right! Marriage. So, while we talk business, entrepreneurship, career and our shared ambition to take over the world, we should also take a moment to address the pink elephant in the room.

So, tag along while I attempt to dissect some of the concerns we  young women have when it comes to the institution of marriage.

The validity of aspiring to marriage

With Chimamanda Adichie’s 2013 TED talk (made even popular by Beyonce’s inclusion in the song, Flawless) finding its way into mainstream culture and conversations, we women are gradually being liberated from that flawed conviction that marriage is the gold standard and a ‘mark of success in life’.

While this can be called progress in some ways, it also has its downsides. Hold on, let me explain. The feminist-driven academic and journalistic culture celebrating today’s “liberated” women, also in some ways, seeks to suppress a natural need for family that most women have.

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In recent times, there has been a blizzard of anti-marriage sentiments shared vocally among the female folks especially across social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. And this is largely because most of them do not want to be seen as aspiring to marriage but hand on heart – and this is quite controversial. I do not know of one woman who does not want to have her own husband and possibly children to come home to after a long day at work.

When discussing the issue in an open and public platform, most young women would be quick to put up an air of indifference with respect to marriage but get her alone and the story would be entirely different. There, I’ve said it! (But let’s not forget that this is an entirely unscientific view based only on my circle of friends, acquaintances and interactions with random people).

Therefore, my take on this issue is rather simple: as much as marriage is not the holy grail of womanhood, I think wanting to be married and subsequently aspiring to it, is valid! As such, you are allowed to be intentional about it, as you are with work/business. (For more on this please try reading this from Dr. Meg Jay). 

The dichotomy between marriage and work

In 2011, the COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg made a statement that went viral;

The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry.”

I only came across this statement last year and it was insightful for me because it reaffirmed a conviction that I have always held and still hold; that the man I marry would take me one step closer to my biggest dreams. Before going further, I should clearly state that I have nothing against stay-at-home mums.  On the contrary, any woman who readily gives up the fancy skirt suits and board meetings for house cleaning and grocery shopping has my respect.
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However, I do not think that marriage and even motherhood has to be a stumbling block on a woman’s pathway to progress. Society typically expects the woman to lean back and make only those career moves that are convenient for her status as a married woman but that does not always have to be the case. Family is a collective and shared responsibility placed equally on both the man and the woman even though both have to function in different capacities. With proper planning, communication and understanding between partners, I believe it is possible for both to raise a decent family without anyone’s dreams or goals suffering for it.

This is where Sheryl’s statement becomes important. Because for this to happen and for this system to work, you need a man who acknowledges the validity of your dreams, believes in the weight of your ambitions and is ready and willing to support you towards reaching your goals regardless of what that ‘support’ might involve.

So yes, married or single, you are allowed to aspire to heights unimaginable in your personal and professional life and marriage if done right, would serve as a catalyst and not a distraction.

Knowing when enough is enough!

There are reports that say that every fourth Nigerian woman suffers some form of domestic violence in her life time. The worst forms of these are usually battering, trafficking, rape and homicide. And it seems only sensible that I lend my voice to this recurring social menace that is plaguing our society, the institution of marriage and women in particular. This is however not to say that men do not suffer domestic abuse or to disregard that possibility.

On this issue, there really isn’t so much I have to say that would be entirely new to you but this, LEAVE! If you unfortunately find yourself in an abusive relationship, before you consider any other solution or any form of therapy, get yourself out of that situation and environment. No man is allowed to hit you out of love or in an attempt to discipline you or for any other reason that you may want to let yourself believe.

Run A Way CampaignSo, for the young woman whose boyfriend angrily shoved her aside and slammed the door on his way out after she informed him of her decision to enroll for another master’s program, for the mother of 2 who got slapped because she scolded her son for spilling fruit juice all over his school uniform, my advice to you is simple. LEAVE!

I have to admit that this is definitely not the easiest thing to do especially with cultural and religious beliefs that advocate total submission and endurance of whatever treatment a woman gets from a man or her husband, as the case may be. But understand that submission as admirable as it is, should also not put you in danger or harm’s way. Many lives and dreams have been lost to domestic violence and yours should definitely not be one of those. Because if he hits you once he would hit you again, if he ever does hit you, please LEAVE!

I’d conclude by saying that as women, we cannot avoid all of the conversations around marriage but what we can do is carefully moderate that conversation in a way that encourages an exchange of perspectives that is beneficial to us all.

So what is your narrative?

  • Single and conflicted as to whether or not you should be actively seeking out a life partner?
  • Married and tempted to quit your job because someone thinks you are not capable of making both work?
  • In a relationship where your partner would rather dialogue with his fists than words?

This is my counsel to you

It is OK to want to be married.

Your dreams are valid.

And if he hits you, even one time, please leave!

So, what about you? What are the concerns you have with respect to women and the almighty marriage? Share your perspective and let’s get talking!

 

How to spot a swag assist

You want to be a boss. You dream of being the type of woman who is on her grind, building an empire and taking no prisoners. Chairman by M.I, I’m a Boss by Rick Ross, and Looku Looku by The Mavins are key songs in the playlist of your life.

There’s only one big problem – you think your partner might be a hater, #SwagDeflator – every #MotherlandMogul’s worst nightmare.
Nicki Minaj - Hell No GifOne of the most critical factors that will impact your professional and entrepreneurial growth is your significant other. Having a partner who supports you is a godsend  – their belief in your talents and dreams will have you thinking you’re Oprah 2.0 or the female Dangote-in-waiting. Having a partner who actively blocks your shine is the worst.

With this in mind, we, at She Leads Africa, have come up with a few tips to help you spot a partner who will support your #MotherlandMogul swag. They’ll be your very own Swag Assist.

1. Was his mum a hustler?

To start, you have to take it all the way to the beginning. Our families and childhoods have a huge influence on what we think our lives should look like when we become adults.

Licia Ronzulli - EU parliament member with baby

If a guy grew up with a mum who was always on her hustle, he’s more likely to see your hustle as normal and ordinary. Additionally, if his mum is a hustler herself, she’s more likely to tell him to chill if he starts complaining too much about your work schedule.

This isn’t to say that sons of stay-at-home mums will want you to do the same. But understand that it may take him some time to get used to your hustle.

2. How much gendered language does he use?

Any potential partner who uses words like “men’s work” or “women’s work” should raise red flags.

Jasmine and tiger from Aladdin

To be a #SwagAssist, a guy needs to have his own beliefs about gender norms not what society has told him. He needs to be comfortable sharing the work at home. For example, if you’re running late at the office, he should put the kids to bed.

If you have a big meeting the next day and don’t have time to cook dinner, he needs to be fine with that. If your man sees the world in one particular way and thinks that you need to stay in your lane, he’s probably not going to be the Barack to your Michelle.

3. How hard does he try to upgrade you and your business?

Beyoncé told the world she wants to upgrade her man, but you should also have someone who wants your business to reach the next level.

Beyonce and Jay Z dancing

There are plenty of guys who pay lip service to supporting their partners, but in reality they couldn’t care less. Does your partner think about how their personal and professional networks can help you grow? If they have special skills, do they use them to support you? For example, if he’s a banker has he offered to look at your numbers? A #SwagAssist will energetically try to support your professional aspirations.


Align your partner with your ambition.”

–Bola Adesola, MD Standard Chartered Nigeria


4. What does he say when you complain about the hustle?

We all have times when nothing seems to be working, and we just want to roll up into the fetal  position and give up.

Biggest loser - Jillian Michaels

Yes, we all want a partner who is occasionally going to baby us and tell us everything is going to be okay. Here’s the thing though, building a business isn’t child’s play and having a partner who is going to let you give up is not helpful if you’re really trying to be a #MotherlandMogul.

You need someone who cares about you so deeply that they’ll listen to you complain, but believes in you so much that they force you to get back up.

5. How does he react to your business success?

When you’ve just signed a big deal and you tell him, pay attention to his expressions and tone of his voice. Does he give you a weak smile, like kind Yetunde gave her boyfriend when he proposed with an ugly ring? Does he say congrats quickly and then get back to how bad the traffic was in Lekki? If the answer is yes, then you’ve got yourself a certified #SwagDeflator. A #SwagAssist will make it clear that you da real MVP.

LA Galaxy soccer player celebrating

He will give you Azonto, Shoki and the running man all at the same time. All of his social media followers will know that you just won. He’ll be so excited people will think he won the lottery. That’s the sort of partner you need walking with you on the journey to professional success.

Everyone knows that one of the easiest ways to lose a war is to start fighting on two fronts. Just ask any German commander circa early 1940s.

It takes a village to raise an entrepreneur – and guess what? Your husband, your bae, your partner, your number 1 is a critical member of that village.

We hope you find someone who cares about your professional happiness and success just as much as you do.

If you’re married and yourMaya Rudolph Saying No guy is a swag deflator, please don’t cite us in the divorce proceedings.

 

 

 

Yay or nay? To have and to hold his last name after marriage

Glenview-Mansion-Maryland-Ethiopian-Wedding-Ceremony-Recessional

It seems that the custom of taking one’s husband’s name after marriage is slowly fading. Women the world over are opting to keep their maiden names after tying the knot. African women are choosing to do the same to the dismay of some and intrigue of others.

There are people who do not understand why a woman would not want to change her surname. It is a PSA that a certain someone put a ring on it, after all.  In a culture that wrongfully values women based on their relationships with men, this decision is being met with resistance.

Who started it

It turns out this custom isn’t even African. It was started by the French and spread to Britain during the  Norman Conquest in the 11th century. A wife was considered a husband’s possession, and, hence had to adopt his name.

Over time, the custom changed to include the scriptural notion of unity that marriage brings to a couple. The tradition then spread to the Motherland through colonialism.

Not everyone finds it necessary

It is actually illegal in some places  to change one’s name for marriage or other reasons. Quebec does not allow women to change their names after they get married. This law exists to extend the Quebec Charter of Rights (1976) statement on gender equality to names, according to Time.com. The same applies in Greece and Belgium.

Even in France,where the custom started, citizens are required to keep the names on their birth certificates for life, though women can take their husband’s names socially, but not legally. The situation is similar in the Netherlands where women can only take their husband’s name under special circumstances.

Italian women can’t legally change their names, but are permitted to hyphenate their surnames by adding their husband’s. Women in Malaysia and Korea customarily keep their maiden names. Burundian women also do not adopt their husband’s names, according to allAfrica.com.

Reason behind rebellion

So why don’t you use your husband’s name? For Nigerian journalist, Amma Ogan, the answer is in the question: “Because it is his name, not mine,” she says in an interview with us.

In her article “Of Marriage and Ownership,” (published on the discontinued 234Next website) she writes about her choice to keep her maiden name and the bewilderment that met her decision. Of the custom she writes:

“Ask a Nigerian man to change his name and he will consider it an insult of the highest order. This means that women are considered fair game, mothers, sisters, daughters, all. The first retort when a woman protests is: Why don’t you want people to know you are married? But that is really a side bar. The people for whom that knowledge is most important are the ones who are in it. Are you married? Yes. Move on.”

For Ogan, and others like Dr. Sophie Coulombeau, keeping their maiden names is a matter of maintaining  their identity, and upholding equality. For them, marriage does not equal validation, as the custom may suggest.

So what could this mean for us?

As a wife, changing your surname to your husband’s can be symbolic. The function of marriage is to unite two people and sharing a name can represent this unity.

Ugandan Anita Arinaitwe Mugisha chose to use her husband’s name, telling allAfrica.com that it signified a new beginning and gave her a sense of belonging. In the same article, Joshua Nshuti, a Ugandan man, said that sharing his name with his wife made him proud and is a constant reminder of his responsibilities to her.

Women opt to keep their maiden names for various reasons whether it be maintaining their identity or asserting equality. Some of them have worked hard to create a name for themselves professionally and don’t want to give that up.

Others marry people from across the world and find keeping their maiden names less confusing. And a few are just trying to avoid all the legal paperwork that comes with changing your name on identity cards, passports, health insurance and bank accounts plus more.

As  businesswomen on the rise, ready to disrupt the old boys’ club, and take the world by storm, one could argue we should abandon a practice that is in its very origin dehumanizing. On the other hand, as I mentioned, taking one’s husband’s name symbolizes unity for some.

Ultimately what is important, I think, is to leave it up to the woman to decide what changing or keeping her name means to her. Perhaps in order to allow that to happen, women shouldn’t be judged for choosing to do either.
Change your last name after marriageWhat do you think Motherland Moguls? Do you plan on changing or keeping your name when you get married? If you are married, did you opt to adopt your husband’s name or keep your maiden name? Let us know in the comments below.