Select Page

Temitope Omotola Odusanya. Chairman & Founder, Gender Parity Initiative

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2021), another generation of women will have to wait for gender equality. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, the global gender gap has increased from 99.5 years to 135.6 years. In order words, this number will only reduce gradually, one day at a time, if actions are expedited now, today. Through the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063, both the United Nations and the African Union have set ambitious targets for advancing gender equality, improving population health, and strengthening national economies in the coming decades. These goals are deeply interconnected, as closing gender gaps is foundational to broader health and economic gains. Yet, it suffices to assert that there remains a large lacuna in closing the gender gap globally and especially in Africa, thus, the United Nations must move more from evidence to impact.

Gender equality has been thoroughly misconstrued in Africa. However, it should be clarified that gender equality does not undermine one gender and make the other weaker. Rather, it denotes that there should be equal opportunities for men and women and sex should not be a prerequisite for who should qualify for opportunities. Gender equality is not selfish; it is not a competition; it is not enmity; it does not mean men and women are the same! Gender equality is equity; it is reciprocity, mutuality of human rights. Gender Equality is Gender Equity. It simply means gender equality stricto sensu! That is 50:50 pro-rata as equality is not a respecter of gender! Despite the substantial progress made by the United Nations on the issue of gender inequality, it remains endemic in Africa and serves as the main challenge to human development. Gender inequality is a global issue as corporations agree that it is fundamental to sustainable business practices. Accordingly, there is a benchmark for international best practices which advocate for gender equality in the workplace. This has led several countries to voluntary interventionist methods as well as laws and codes of corporate governance across the globe to comply with the international benchmark. However, research shows that Africa, especially Nigeria, has not adopted this benchmark which has resulted in the lack of gender equality.

There is an avalanche of information on the “essence” of gender equality in a leadership position. Lord Davies asserted that ‘If you are a chief executive officer and you do not have gender equality… as a top issue, then you have been asleep at the wheel’. Jill Ader postulated that more voices are needed, the majority of these voices are those of women. Hillary Clinton also asserted that women account for a talent pool of untapped resources! Gender equality is a crucial factor in corporate governance and it is in tandem with international standard practice. This is also tantamount to the United Nations sustainable developmental goal, (SDG 5) to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Yet, in Africa, inequalities prevail.

It is therefore against this backdrop that this article historically examines gender, culture, and hegemonies as factors for or against development in Africa. It has been revealed that culture and other aspects of society shape the lives and relationships of men and women in Africa. For example, a Yoruba proverb states: Gbogbo kti obirin ba ka ile idana lo pin si. That is, a woman’s education ends up in the kitchen. Akan proverb entrenches this idea when it says: “When a woman buys a gun, it is kept in a man’s room.” Such proverbs show that women do not have the capacity and ability to manage valuable property¸ an indication that they must play insignificant and subordinate roles to men with regards to property ownership.  These African proverbs have served as a major avenue for the continued perpetuation of gender discrimination among the Africans, and the exercise of male dominance.

For example, it is wrong to say “I have your type at home” or “women do not need a raise because they have rich husbands to cater for their needs” Poverty can and should arguably be alleviated through Gender equality. Revision of laws and books especially children’s books is also a necessity in bridging the gender equality gap. For instance, growing up, majority of my primary/secondary schools’ pieces of literature portrayed that a woman’s role is to feed and cater for the well-being of her family – there was a pictorial illustration in these books of the wives/mothers struggling in the kitchen, pounding yams (it was the standard ‘norm’) and sweating in the kitchen alone. Whilst also attending to the needs of her babies (depending on their ages) In addition to all that, the husband/father watched the football match, played games with friends or gist with friends and kept beckoning/calling the wife. Mother, women are indeed expert multi-taskers. Why then should they be relegated only to the home and family settings? It could be adduced that some of these skills are essential beyond the home and family life.

The novel “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe paints a vivid picture of the Igbo gender stereotype where a woman must be soft, subservient, weak, and gentle. The boy child is brought up knowing that he is not just superior to the girl child but ought to be superior and controlling. Illiteracy is a disease! We can only place value on what we desire. A woman is not a mere object, she is more than her shape or structure. Her shape does not determine who she is. These are some of the typical examples of our literature stories growing up and it is what we also see in our contemporary societies. Arguing that this is wrong and should not be the norm feels like a norm, sometimes society even condemns such activism as nonsense and being too western. Arguably, these are some of the root causes of the deeply embedded issues that plague us especially in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

Imperatively, equality goes beyond socio-political correctness. McKinsey’s research shows that that “True gender balance would add up to a colossal 28 trillion dollars’ worth of economy to the global economy which is equivalent to both the US and China’s economies combined. Hence, there is a strong causal relationship between gender equality and economic prosperity as affirmed by Mckinsey’s Studies. What then is stopping the world from utilizing such an invaluable untapped pool of talents/resources? An attempt to answer these questions notwithstanding being rhetorical logically would be to reconsider the patriarchal argument extensively. Gender prejudice is another major consideration. Women are neither inferior to men nor the second/ subordinate /secondary sex. Thinking or asserting otherwise would amount to a part of the problematic marginalization and trivialization of women’s involvement in political activities evidenced in their relegation to cheerleading roles during political contests, and at best, merely voting male candidates.

Hence, gender, culture, and development in the African context should be reinforced and reshaped. Just as one cannot board a bus and expect it to fly, there must be a process, a method. Life is definitely in stages, hence we should celebrate the little wins while striving for more. The United Nations efforts cannot be sidestepped, yet there is the need to do more especially in Africa to effect a long-lasting and true change. Gender equality activism should truly be about less noise, more voices, and actions. Women are as effective in leadership as men; there is not anything that women cannot achieve.


African Literature’ (2020) Journal of Arts and Contemporary Society, ISSN 2277, 0046 Bako

Mandy Jollie and Syed Jawad, ‘Women Marginalization in Nigeria and the way forward (2018) Human Resource Development International Volume 21, Issue 5, 443.

Aimee Henry Leona, Buyl Tine, and Jansen Rob, ‘Leading Corporate Sustainability: The role of top management team composition for triple bottom line performance’ (2019) WILEY: Business Strategy and the Environment 28, 184.

Andrews Nathan, ‘A Woman Can Also Speak Out: Gendered Perspectives on Responsibilization’ (2019) Gold Mining and the Discourses of Corporate Social Responsibility in Ghana, 132.

Awosika Ibukunoluwa, Playing to Win (2019) Made for More Conference: Elevation Church Nigeria at PISTIS Conference Centre, Jakande, Lekki, Lagos.

Azuike Maureen Amaka, ‘Cultural Patriarchy and Mythical Stereotypes about Women in Onwutuebe Chidiebere, ‘Patriarchy and Women Vulnerability to Adverse Climate Change in Nigeria’ (2019) SAGE Open Volume 9, Issue 1.

Ortrun Merkle and Pui-Hang Wong, ‘It is all about Power: Corruption, Patriarchy and the Political Participation of Women’ (2020) Women and Sustainable Human Development, 368.

World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, (2021)< accessed 10th November 2021.


Privacy Preference Center


    Cookies are small pieces of data, stored in text files, that are stored on your computer or other device when websites are loaded in a browser. They are widely used to “remember” you and your preferences, either for a single visit (through a “session cookie”) or for multiple repeat visits (using a “persistent cookie”). They ensure a consistent and efficient experience for visitors, and perform essential functions such as allowing users to register and remain logged in. Cookies may be set by the site that you are visiting (known as “first party cookies”), or by third parties, such as those who serve content or provide advertising or analytics services on the website (“third party cookies”). Both websites and HTML emails may also contain other tracking technologies such as “web beacons” or “pixels.” These are typically small transparent images that provide us with statistics, for similar purposes as cookies. They are often used in conjunction with cookies, though they are not stored on your computer in the same way. As a result, if you disable cookies, web beacons may still load, but their functionality will be restricted.
    • We use necessary cookies for technical reasons; some enable a personalised experience for both visitors and registered users; and some allow the display of advertising from selected third party networks. Some of these cookies may be set when a page is loaded, or when a visitor takes a particular action (clicking the “like” or “follow” button on a post, for example).
    • Many of the cookies we use are only set if you are a registered user (so you don’t have to log in every time, for example), while others are set whenever you visit one of our websites, irrespective of whether you have an account.
    • We rely on consent as the ground for using such cookies. We will only use cookies for the specific purposes referred to above. You have the right to withdraw consent at any time. This does not affect the lawfulness of processing based on consent before its withdrawal.
    • You may refuse consent or withdraw your consent to the use of cookies at any time by disabling cookies. You may disable cookies by adjusting your browser settings accordingly. If you want to remove previously stored cookies, you may clear your browser’s cookies. Please refer to your browser’s help menu for instructions on how to disable and/or remove cookies.
    • Please note that if you disable cookies, our website may not function properly.
    • We will not disclose your personal data to any other third parties unless we are obliged to under a court order or other legislative or regulatory requirement.

    gdpr[allowed_cookies], gdpr[consent_types], wordpress_test_cookie


    • These cookies are set by us and our advertising partners to provide you with relevant content and to understand that content’s effectiveness. They may be used to collect information about your online activities over time and across different websites to predict your preferences and to display more relevant advertisements to you. These cookies also allow a profile to be built about you and your interests and enable personalised ads to be shown to you based on your profile.

    gdpr[allowed_cookies], gdpr[consent_types], wordpress_test_cookie


    • These cookies allow us to optimize performance by collecting information on how users interact with our websites, including which pages are visited most, as well as other analytical data. We use these details to improve how our websites function and to understand how users interact with them.

    gdpr[allowed_cookies], gdpr[consent_types], wordpress_test_cookie


    • Our website contains third party links, and also includes functionality allowing users to share our webpages on third party social media applications, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. If you follow a link to another website or share a webpage on third party social media applications, this may allow third parties to collect or share data about you. We do not control third party websites and we do not accept any responsibility or liability for their privacy and cookie policies. When you leave our website, we encourage you to read the privacy and cookie policy of every website you visit. • We may update this privacy and cookie policy from time to time to reflect our practices. • If you have any queries, contact us through:

    gdpr[allowed_cookies], gdpr[consent_types], wordpress_test_cookie