In the Western world, women’s equality is high on the agenda and much progress has been made in terms of the rights of the woman in the political, sexual, social, and economic arena. However, in the developing world, women are still significantly disadvantaged. However, some women, like Esther Nenadi Usman, are changing this.
What Sets Usman Apart?
Nenadi Esther Usman is from Nigeria, from the state of Southern Kaduna. Nenadi is breaking the mold when it comes to the Nigerian perception of the place of the woman. From her humble background in Kaduna, Esther became Senator Nenadi Esther. While women becoming a minister is still quite rare, not just in Nigeria but in the world, what is even rarer is for them to take on positions outside of the “soft” sectors. But Nenadi Esther Usman did it. She is the former finance minister, with the economic and financial sector being one of the rarest, globally, for women to become involved in. And, to add to it, Nenadi Esther Usman married a Muslim man, hence living in an interfaith marriage. What Nenadi is doing, is showing the world, and particularly people in Nigeria, that women can do everything men can, and that is a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Women in Developing Countries
The following statistics show why role models like Esther Usman are still needed:
- In the developing world, women grow 60% of food, while owning less than 1% of the land.
- Globally, women work two thirds of all the working hours. Yet, they earn less than 10% of the income.
- Every minute, a woman loses her life because of complications in pregnancy ad 99% of these are in developing countries
- 45 million girls the world over are denied the chance for education.
Simply put, according to Nenadi Esther, just by being a woman, someone is more likely to live in poverty. Change has been achieved and progress towards equality has been made, but this has mainly been in the Western world. But women in the developing world can do it as well. Women like Nenadi are role models in this, but she also feels that the West has a responsibility to help with this. Her top priorities are having sexual, political, and social rights, and having equal access to housing, food, education, work, and health.
The Key Challenges Women Face
- Women have lower socioeconomic status, which means it is harder for them to access community services, food, and health care.
- There are countries where 30% of women had a forced or coerced first sexual experience. Sexual violence against women is clearly linked to HIV/AIDS. Female genital mutilation still happens in many countries.
- There is little political representation of women in developing countries, something that Usman is addressing in particular.
- 70% of people in the world who live in poverty are women, because they do not have equal access to services, food, and education.
Anyone can help address this. Support charities, raise awareness, follow women like Esther Nenadi Usman. It all makes a difference.