Women living Beyond the Kitchen
Dr. Georgina K. Ngeri-Nwagha, Chairman, Action For The Needy Foundation and former senior lecturer at Rivers State University of Science and Technology, brings together in this book, Beyond the Kitchen (Parresia, Lagos; 2017) virtues that challenge, encourage, exhort women to strive towards ascendancy and self-actualisation outside the home and the kitchen.
In this book, the former Development Officer at United Nations Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) explores the common issues and challenges that women face. She seeks to understand reasons women seem ‘glued in the depths of tradition and suppressive policies,’ which do not inspire them to rise and become leaders in their respective fields and help them break through the many ceilings that have been barriers for so long.
The book, with five chapters and 132 pages, analyses various challenges facing women from every part of the world, with African countries given prominent attention. It also examines methods to apply to have breakthrough without the women abandoning their domestic roles they play in society and their responsibilities to the family. The book urges women not to define their self worth or level of acceptance by the role they played in the Kitchen but to look beyond it to fulfill their dreams and mission.
Beyond the Kitchen encourages women to get to the peak of education and encourages women in ventures. The examples of some women achievers from all over the world are highlighted to serve as role models, while some propellers to purposeful action are provided to equip women to believe in themselves and take positive action to fulfill their aspirations.
Chapter one of this book, Gender and Sex: What is the difference? looks at the word ‘gender,’ which has been defined by many scholars in different ways, with each agreeing that gender is determined by specific society, religious and culture. The author states that gender is culture-specific, and deeply embedded in social constructions, which include social values, practices, and attitudes that vary from one society and nation to another. She lists gender bias, gender roles and gender relations, as three main things a society must be able to put into consideration when dealing with women and gender-related matter.
With the rejection of gender equality bill, which proposes that women and men inherit an equal share by the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohamed Sa’ad Abubakar, who is also the Nigeria’s most senior Muslim cleric that recently labeled the bill, as a violation of Islamic law guaranteeing men a greater share, Ngeri-Nwagha, who was bestowed with the National Council of Women’s Society (NCWS) award in 2015, compiled cultural and gender roles in different countries – from Canada to the Saudi Arabia, the U.S and Nigeria. She states that the diverse social, cultural and religious attitudes among different tribes generally tend to relegate women to the background. Interestingly, she argues, women were accorded respect and valued as custodian of culture in pre-colonial times.
The 2006 Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) awardee could not but challenge women in What happens when you do not take your place? to carve for themselves important roles in society and to support their husbands, saying, “The fear of taking risks prevents us from accepting exciting opportunities and stepping out to pursue our deep-seated desires.”
The adage: ‘two heads are better than one’ applies in all phases of life. A woman, who works and earns a living, is less dependent on her husband. She supports and helps her husband with the bills and with the financial needs of the children. This, Ngeri-Nwagha says, should be the role of women beyond the kitchen!
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