(Where a woman is being maltreated, the hand of another woman is there!)

I had some distressing encounters this week, which I discussed with a good friend of mine. As we spoke, I remembered an article I hurriedly glanced through as I was getting ready for work. The area that caught my attention was when the writer, Onyinyechi J. Nwosu, said, “A woman who uses her position and possession to oppress others is no partner in achieving a balanced future.” This comment of hers was made in view of the current issue in Aba where a female police officer denied bail to some girls over a trivial matter and one of the girls happened to be on her period. This singular statement got me thinking, not just of my encounters this week but of several other cases where women fight women. So much attention is given to violence against women by men; yet, some women are even more ruthless towards their fellow women. We speak of an equal or balanced society, which is indeed necessary, but how can this be achieved when some women dim the lights of other women? So, as I talked with my dear friend this morning, she said, “Mummy, there is an Igbo adage that says, ‘Ebe a na emegbu nawyi, aka nwayi di ya!’” meaning, ‘where a woman is being maltreated, the hand of another woman is there!’

This summed up everything for me and got me reflecting on all the times women maltreat their fellow women. Should we sweep this under the carpet and continue to call for balance alone? I believe this is a good time to take a stand and address this embarrassing situation that affects many women.

Let’s look at a few scenarios:

  • The female boss in the office who wants to shine alone. She denies the female assistant, supervisor or officer the chance of being recognized for her good work, stops every financial reward coming to her and sits on her promotion.
  • The ‘Umu Adas’ who maltreat the widow, shave her hair with a blade and force her to drink the water that was used in bathing her husband’s corpse.
  • The female “Ikwus” who throw away a woman’s belongings and force her out of her husband’s home.
  • The mother in-law or sister in-law who dictates what a husband must do to his wife to control her or brings in another woman to the house for her son or brother to marry instead of the wife the man already has.
  • The slay queen, side chick or female money bag who entices a man, lures him with her fangs and takes over another woman’s man and home.
  • The over-zealous ‘concerned citizen’ at the office, who runs to the manager to fabricate stories or blow things out of proportion in order to get another woman sacked.
  • The ‘Olofofo’ who runs to a boyfriend or husband to besmirch his woman’s character and encourage him to break the relationship.
  • The ‘witchy-witchy’ woman who hears a good thing coming another woman’s way and blocks it.
  • The lecturer who frustrates a female student and makes it difficult for her to graduate.
  • The rich woman who can afford to give scholarships to help indigent students but fails to do so for fear of no longer being the only cock crowing in the community.
  • The influential government mama who has the power to lift up women with noble initiatives but pretends she does not see their potentials.
  • The over righteous woman who is the only ‘perfect woman’ standing and never sees good in others. She is the first to spread the news of another woman’s daughter who got pregnant in school or the woman whose husband left her.
  • The madam, who works her maid to the bones, feeds her with very little food and never buys her toiletries to help her look clean and smell nice.
  • The woman who dehumanizes her house help by maiming, chaining and locking her up.
  • The bully who instigates other women to sideline, bad mouth and ill-treat a fellow woman.
  • The bitter woman who will never compliment her fellow woman.
  • The ‘man-lover’ who will see a woman at the counter whose turn it is to be attended to, but will disregard her, smile and greet a man who just walked in and attend to him instead.

 These are bitter truths and I have experienced some of the examples I cited.

Why would a woman maltreat her fellow woman? Aren’t we supposed to help build each other up? It is said that women in leadership are often ruthless most especially towards fellow women. Why must this be so? Knocking down a fellow woman can never make you the bigger person. There’s another adage that says, “if the closest person to me cannot stand by me; who else will stand by me?” The closest person to me is my fellow woman who should understand me better than anyone else.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is, ‘CHOOSE TO CHALLENGE.’ Today, I choose to challenge this ugly conception of women in leadership.

 I choose to build a SISTER FORCE that will encourage collaboration and support to Womanhood. My sisters and I shall present a formidable force that will support and empower women to become the best versions of themselves and bring positive changes in homes, schools, offices and communities.  Today, Genuine Womanhood Initiative Pathway to Nation Building is proud to present her SISTER FORCE, united in RAISING EXEMPLARY AFRICAN LADIES.

Be kind to your fellow women!💖

Lady Jane Ndukwe

Founder, Genuine Womanhood Initiative Pathway to Nation Building (GWI)