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How marriage myths are holding women back in Nigeria

Many women are living with the disappointment that their matrimonial homes belong just to their husbands.

Certain myths have left many married women unfulfilled [iStock]

She was very excited about her new status and new home, and was willing to do her best to build a good home together with her husband.

She was, however, disappointed and discouraged when she called her parents to tell them how excited she was and her plans to live faithfully with Jide to make their home a model.

Her father dropped a bombshell, "My dear daughter, the house is Jide’s, not yours. In this part of the world, a woman gets married to a man and moves to the man’s house.

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"We are indeed happy and proud that you have moved to your husband’s house."

Like Wura, many women are living with the disappointment that their matrimonial homes belong just to their husbands. They feel belittled and disregarded, and are discouraged to contribute their best to build their families.

Taiwo Bello, administrator, Cute Kids Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), is worried that this myth has left many married women unfulfilled.

Taiwo says it is high time Nigerians began to change the mindset that it is the man's world. She regrets that the mindset makes some Nigerian men, at the slightest provocation, to tell their wives to leave their houses.

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According to her, the home or house of a couple belongs to the two adults who have agreed to live together as husband and wife. The administrator is convinced that a home cannot function effectively without the wife.

She believes that, in most cases, it is the wife who holds or keeps the home. Bose Ironsi, Executive Director of Women’s Right and Health Project, also an NGO, says it is wrong for the Nigerian society to believe that women are solely responsible for certain roles at home.

According to her, it is wrong for some men to leave school runs, cooking, sweeping, cleaning and washing for their wives no matter how busy such women are. She notes that many women are the bread winners of their families and have little time for house chores.

According to Ironsi, children belong to both the man and his wife and should be cared for by both. Ironsi says it is right for a man whose wife is the bread winner to willingly assist in discharging other duties at home.

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Adeola Ekine, the Chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Lagos State Chapter, is also worried that marriage myths also hold down some women's careers.

Ekine is dissatisfied that the society frowns at a woman accepting a job offer that can temporarily take her away from her husband and children.

"When a man gets an international appointment offer, he will not think about it twice before accepting, whereas the reverse is the case for a woman," she says.

She regrets that a woman is seen as inferior in many quarters, adding that many stereotypes have entangled today's woman. Ekine adds that many married women are being abused daily by their spouses and have chosen to live or die in it because of some myths.

A businesswoman, Adaeze Achibogu, says it is saddening that in some parts of Nigeria, a woman cannot inherit her parents' property, yet in her matrimonial home, she is expected not to own anything in her name.

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"It is time to enlighten our men who see themselves as the superior gender," she urges.

Achibogu is disappointed that some educated men are still upholding stereotypes against the woman. According to her, some of them see women who have broken the glass ceiling as arrogant and uncontrollable. She also claims some men deliberately stop their wives from climbing in their careers.

"Nigerian men should see women as individuals that can undertake and perform some roles, not just the roles supposedly assigned to her because of her gender," she says.

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Pastor Olufemi Clement of a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God at Igando, Lagos State, says women are too much endowed to be relegated to the background. He advises women to believe that they are a blessing to mankind and do their best to be sources of blessings to their families and environments. Clement says some myths have made some women unhappy and depressed, and should be stopped.

Sesan Okegunwa, Chairman, Zone 2, Jakande Estate, Oke- Afa, Isolo, Lagos State, says the myths are not helping the womenfolk. He observes that when a woman wants to rent an apartment, most landlords will want to know if she is with a man, "whereas nobody cares to ask a man whether he is with a woman or not."

Okegunwa describes women as good home managers but expresses worry that they are not entrusted with important decision making on behalf of their families even in emergency situations.

"Such decision making will have to wait till the man returns," he says.

He is, however, happy that many women have realised that they can break barriers and achieve their goals.

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