I was scribbling down notes on gender inequality, when a niggling thought wiggled its way into my mind and engaged me in an irritating contest. I tried as much as I could to silence the irksome taunt of the voice in my mind, but it stubbornly refused to go away. It was on the controversial stance of Apostle Paul, who in his effort to preach Christ by every means possible, denigrated and subjected women in his trick to making the Jews accept Christ because of his knowledge of the Jewish law on the female gender.
More also, taken from the fact I felt in my mind that there was nothing substantiating the girl child’s rights in the scripture as every Igbo man I came across in this course, felt that God himself made it so, and knowing too well that both Christians and the traditionalists drew their inferences from the Holy Book either by instinct or knowledge – through God’s dealings with His chosen race-Israel. I was so miffed that I broke my pen.
The next morning, before the break of dawn, I heard a faint voice saying, “Pick up your Bible”. In my usual brazenness, I replied to the voice, “I should just pick up the Bible and start reading from Genesis to Revelation? What would I be looking for? The rights of the girl-child? No, I’ll not do that.” Then I heard something like a giggle. Thinking it was my husband teasing me, I turned towards him in irritation but he was fast asleep. I scolded myself for being so touchy so early in the morning. Then, I slept off. When I woke up again by daylight, I reluctantly picked up my Bible and it kind of opened arbitrarily to a chapter and my gaze was directed to a portion where the girl-child’s right of inheritance to be observed as a legal requirement is illuminated. A smile of thanks coursed through my face and a huge sigh of relief escaped from my lips. I have found the missing link, I mused. The girl-child’s rights which a patriarchal society concealed under a restrictive tradition and religious tyranny have been uncovered. Centuries of repression and deprivation have been severed by the awesome power of the faint voice of truth. The revelation gave me a sudden boost to continue my work on gender inequality, and this is the rationale for my proposition to the eastern governors.
Much have been said and done in the emancipation and empowerment of the girl-child in the areas of education, freedom of expression, choice and decision-making as pertaining to her life, marriage, sexuality and pregnancy/child birth. But there is yet an area that is left behind that will give perpetual support and sustenance to these others.
Given the many obstacles and denigration the female gender is facing in Igboland, it is imperative a grass-roots approach be taken to solving the issue of gender inequality: establishing the girl-child right of inheritance by a legal act in the South-Eastern states where tradition is clutching so hard on the female gender.
The girl-child’s right of inheritance will serve as a process of facilitating, enrooting and providing the means for girls to overcome the denigration they face to attaining full access to their rights.
The issue of gender inequality can only be solved by giving the girl-child the same sense of belonging and equal rights to her father’s properties as the boy-child in our homes and society, and this will be solving the issue of women denigration from the root and also the problem facing widowhood, mostly, the widows with only girl-child/children.
By this, strength, wisdom, power and positivity will be instilled in the girl-child to restore her lost confidence due to harmful cultural/traditional practices. This will also serve as a key to transforming her into a powerful woman and a leader who is able to blossom in the fullness of her potential.
But in a situation where only the girl-child exists in a home, she should be the one to inherit her father’s property, not her father’s brothers.
Observing the right of the girl-child as a legal requirement is my proposition to the eastern governors and passing it as a law will be the right solution to solving the gender inequality in our society from the root.
This will go a long way in giving the girl-child a solid foundation and strong sense of belonging in her father’s house, making her a strong and respected woman in her husband’s house and someone not to be trifled with, if, in widowhood.