Karo Omu (@duchesskk) on the Relevance of Feminism in Nigeria
Karo Omu is a marketing executive in an e-Gaming company. She is also the founder of ‘Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls’ and ‘Foundation for the Eradication of Child Labour’, two organisations driven to help achieve social justice in our world. In this short interview for our website, I ask a few questions on her perspectives on feminism and its relevance to our society. She tweets via @duchesskk
Ohotu: What informs your stand as a feminist?
Karo Omu: I am feminist simply because, I believe men and women are equal and should not be deprived of social, economic, personal and other opportunities based on gender.
Ohotu: Of what relevance do you think feminism is in our African and Nigerian societies today?
African feminism is a necessity in our society. We are coming from years of women being separated from their agencies as people. Many girls are not in school simply because they are girls, FGM is still prominent in parts of Nigeria and the rest of Africa, the numbers of sexual abuse cases reported and unreported remain outrageous, women are losing out on having careers simply because they are saddled with endless domestic responsibilities, the reasons are endless, we need to do more.
Ohotu: As a feminist advocate, what are the challenges you face and how do you address them?
As a woman there are things that happen daily specifically because I am a woman. One of the things is people telling me to be less strong willed because it is not feminine. For me, I make it a point of duty to continue to educate myself by seeing what other women I admire have done in similar situations at home, in the workplace etc and make sure I am equipped to fight back based on what I have learned from others and my own experiences.
Ohotu: What is your stance on gender roles, especially with regard to roles between wives and husbands and as taught to children?
I don’t believe in gender roles even if I was brought up being told what women should do and men should do. I have had to make efforts to unlearn them. Gender roles are limiting for girls and boys, it makes them think they can be only one thing. People would have you believe that conversations about gender roles are unimportant but this is a lie. Over the years, the amount of time many women have spent doing unpaid domestic labour could have been spent furthering their personal lives in other ways of their choice. Wives and husbands can be corporate career people or domestic career people. Also, I believe children no matter the gender should be involved in all types of domestic work so they don’t grow up expecting to find someone to do it for them.
Ohotu: How, in your opinion, has feminism helped to improve the status of women in Nigeria and in Africa?
Women are becoming more vocal and demanding recognition for their work. It is beautiful to see women challenge stereotypes, becoming pilots, world acclaimed surgeons, minister and even soldiers.
Ohotu: Are there any ways in which you think that males should be superior to females or are to assume leadership by virtue of their gender alone?
(I laughed when I read this lol)
Ohotu: Are there any physiological or biological traits which women possess that, in your opinion, should form reasons for their assuming subordinate status to men?
(Ohotu nods in agreement)
Ohotu: What is your view about norms of behaviour that prescribe that men should not, for instance, cry? That is, what is now termed Toxic Masculinity.
There is nothing feminine about crying or being expressive, it should be normal. coming from years before civilization, it has made men have the need to protect or put on a facade of strength but we are no longer hunting animals for food so I think we can all chill. The suicide rate for men is on the increase, male rape is barely discussed and many men continue to be clowned for embracing feminism or even crying. We need a healthier society that accepts that even if individuals could be different not one gender has monopoly of tears and vulnerability.
Ohotu: In order to achieve gender equality in Africa, what do you think are the best means of changing the patriarchal views of the majority?
I don’t have all the answers but for me, it is primarily deliberate representation, education and consequences. For deliberate representation, we need to consciously have more women put in visible spaces, more women CEOs, more women footballers, pilots, teacher, surgeons, as we make an effort like that we need to back it up with finances, women,men and the government putting their money into programmes that help more girls learn. Educating everybody about equality and the gains of gender equality to be enjoyed by all. Teaching from an early age that boys and girls are equal, not saddling girls with responsibilities for a hypothetical husband or saddling boys with pressures to take care of girls their own age financially. Finally, consequences for actions against women and girls. Let rapists do time, let domestic abusers be locked up, parent marrying off kids should be punished.
It would be simplistic to say all these solve the problems but I believe that is a good start.
Karo Omu’s ideas are helping to shape a lot of person’s view about feminism in Nigeria because she constantly uses her voice to advocate feminism in her own space.
Thank you for reading