This is my 3rd week of being on holiday and Ive had a chance to reflect on my experiences of two worlds that are poles apart. Every time I step out of Naija, I’m able to reflect on my experiences of being a woman in Nigeria. Women in my country are under so much pressure. I’ve been intrigued for the past 10 years with trying to understand the complexities and this is what I discovered. 
 
 
EXPECTATIONS 
It’s expected that a woman will meet the man of her dreams by mid 20s, have at least 3 children (including a boy) and a thriving career. That title of being a wife is so high in her selfworth and unfortunately some men use it as a weapon to marginalize  her. “After all I married you” they will say. If a woman is not married and doesn’t have children then the pressure is more intense.  Some women have resorted to going into hiding or avoiding others at all costs because of the pressure and the labels. The struggle is real. 
 
THE MEN
Unfortunately in this 21st century, some men in my country treat their wives unequally. Forget partnerships, these men have clubs of which the wives are not included. That means come weekends, these men are always with their boys: hanging with boys, drinking with the boys, meeting with the boys. Romance! What’s that? He doesn’t want to indulge himself in anything romantic mainly because he’s hanging out with the boys or his mistress. You should be lucky he married you! Sigh. So a lot of women are stuck in loveless marriages where both have become house mates rather than lovers.  
 
 
COMPETITION 
Coupled with the above I can see where intense competition with other women arises. I believe it’s societal pressure that causes the rivalry. Each wanting to prove to each other that she is better or more worthy. Most Nigerian women I’ve come across are wary of each other. It’s not surprising though. If you are pregnant you dare not share your expected date with anyone. It’s just not done. If your expecting good news you dare not share it. Mistrust is not a foundation for confidence but in  Naija,  you can’t trust anyone; well not totally. 
 
 
INSECURITY
So how can you expect the average Nigerian Woman to be inwardly secure when there’s so much external pressure surrounding her? So she wields her security with outward things: her career, her husband, her children, her gold, her bag, her weaves, her status but there’s something deep within her that is not fulfilled.  She just wants to be free. She just wants to be herself.
 
 
WOMEN EMPOWERMENT 

There are quite a few empowerment groups that have evolved to tackle some of the issues and I commend them. In my opinion, a good place to start is changing one’s mindset and here are a few questions for my fellow Nigerian women that might help us. 
Can you let go of societal pressures? That means there’s no pressure for you to keep up with the Olaniyan’s or Okafor’s. 
Can you be true to yourself? Just be completely yourself without putting a front. 
Can you take off the mask? Stop pretending to be something you’re not. 
Can you be free to be yourself completely? Be childlike but not childish. 
Can you trust others? That means letting your guards down and revealing the real you and not the “social media” you. 
Can you accept your weaknesses? When we accept our weaknesses then we can improve on our overall character and personality. 
Can you accept that you can’t have everything figured out? We can work with what’s in front of us, step by step. “Our unique and individual selves”.  I think once we can answer the above honestly it’s a huge step towards being free
Please let me know your thoughts and please share with others. Thanks for stopping by, with love always 
 
RiRi
 
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