We are in a man’s world, whether we accept it or not.  They make all the policies, take all the decisions, create all the values and force them down on us without consulting the womenfolk.   This has from time immemorial led to policies that are detrimental to the “weaker sex.”   The man is the head of the family, the lord and owner of the woman.  If she is a wife, she will have to do his bidding, respect, honour and fear him, and at same the time take care of him.  She could even be made to understand that she is not a part of that family.

As a daughter, she is conditioned to look up to her brother for protection.   The brother is the heir and should be treated as a king.   At age thirteen (13), she is called ‘my wife’, but a boy of the same age is called ‘my son’; that is why she is married off at an early age to carry pregnancies with undeveloped pelvic.

As a mother, she is most unlucky if she does not produce a male child, not to talk of when she does not have any child at all – male or female.   She would easily be sent away because she has no claim to the house; but, where she is not ready to pack out, she should be ready to serve the second wife that may come in and start producing children – boys and girls.   If she has a male child, then she treats him like a king, gives him all the pet names in this world, makes him realize that without him, she has no place in the husband’s home.

As a girlfriend, she is made to understand that she has to work hard and always be there for the boyfriend, even when it is not convenient for her, or  he could replace her with another that is ready to shower him with love without asking him questions about the other “concubines.”

The man could decide that the woman should take care of ‘her’ children in all aspects; he could decide that they are not worth his time and money, especially if they are all girls and no boy.   He could decide to stay late, spend his money on other women and drinks.   The woman is left with no option than to struggle and provide for her offspring and wither in the process.  When they grow into worthy sons and daughters, the father comes and proudly claims his children and takes all the praises.

Aunt Stella got married at a tender age to Mr. Azubike; in the process they had four girls.  She tried everything possible to conceive again, all to no avail, at the end, Mr. Azubike abandoned her and children and disappeared.   Aunt Stella with the help of her senior brother went back to school to read Accountancy.  After graduating, she got a Federal Government’s job.  She trained her girls and she has a medical doctor, an engineer and two teachers.  But before she could enjoy the fruit of her labour, she fell sick and died.  The husband resurfaced for the burial.  The children, being what God made woman to be, mothers  with soft-hearts, forgave their father and reconciled with him.  Today, he is the one enjoying the toils and sweat of Aunt Stella.

Of recent, we have heard stories where men abandon their wives in the hospital, because they delivered twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc.  Did they impregnate themselves?  Why can’t they stay and struggle with their wives and support the women in taking care of the children?  Two are always better than one!

There is a case of a family among the distressed families that the Federal Government is taking care of, through the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.  The woman delivered wonderful triplets – two boys and a girl – nine years ago, and the husband disappeared.   Till the last time that they came to the Ministry for a programme which has to do with empowering distressed families, the woman said the man has not resurfaced.  The children are about to finish primary schooling; they do not know their father, and they have not ever seen him. He is still their father, no matter what.  The Ministry has been sponsoring their education.

The woman plays the role of a wife, mother and breadwinner (career/businesswoman), all at the same time, while the man is contented with being the lord without the corresponding responsibilities.  He has given them over to the woman and she has taken them over willingly, because of the children.   Some men would happily allow women to pay their dowry.   There are some that would readily marry any woman that is rich and well connected, not considering the kind of person she is.  It is that bad.

What is a woman going to do when her so-called lord has refused or cannot provide for her and the family?  Is she expected to sit down, cross her legs and watch her children go to bed every day on empty stomach? No, It is impossible!

Women are industrious, hardworking, meticulous and loving.  Words are inadequate to qualify women.   They cannot afford to sit and allow things go wrong, hence they go all out to start something no matter how small, to ensure that the family is taken care of.   It is absolutely necessary for every woman to have something doing; and it is also necessary for the men, who are in this category, to start taking responsibility of their children, and stop being callous and nonchalant.

A successful home is made of father, mother and their children; and for children to get the best of this life, they need the presence of their father.   Men should try to always be there for their wives and children, no matter the economic challenges we may be facing.   One will chase away one thousand, but two will chase away ten thousand, according to the Holy Book.

Obiechina Ngozi is a Resident Information Officer at Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.  She subscribed this piece to commemorate the occasion for empowering distressed women.