Mrs Iyiola Olatokunbo Edun is the Executive Director, Grace Schools, the official Representative of the Loyalist College of Technology, Canada in Nigeria. Trained at the University of Kent and the University of Essex, both in the United Kingdom (UK), she shares her unpleasant experiences as a black woman in Europe and speaks on parental responsibilities and the role of women in the society.
My unpleasant experiences as a black woman in Europe
I am sad at the way the black woman is being treated in the world. I have travelled before and had terrible experiences in the hands of air hostesses. I usually travel business class, but to my utter dismay, the air hostess thought I could not afford business class. I was pointed to the back toilet to use and when I came back to occupy my seat in the business class, she started apologising. She responded that she thought I was flying economy class. This has been a consistent occurrence for me and I felt bad just because I am a black woman, I cannot afford luxury or I should be so poorly treated as an inferior being? I had also been embarrassed like this before in Amsterdam where I was told to go back and queue on the economy line and not on the priority line by the Airline staff, a man. This same incident also happened in Spain when a woman believed that I could not be on the priority line when the announcement was made for priority category passengers to queue. We are poorly rated not only as women but black women. I have also been embarrassed at Atlanta Airport alongside my son when we were asked whether we missed our way on the priority line. These are serious issues that being a black woman create as if we are inferior to the whites. This is one major reason I always encourage women to rise to any challenge and seek to overcome the odds against them
Role of women in society
I was brought up by a very strict mum. My mother had strength in talking which she used in passing across key messages. My mum didn’t give anything on a platter. She ensured that I worked to earn whatever I deserved. I was exposed to several things through my mother and she ensured that I had the basic fundamentals of becoming a woman of repute. It has become imperative for women to create an enabling environment and monitor their children. The role of women cuts across the home and the society. It is also important for women to know the peculiarities of every individual child. Women should engage in profitable ventures and gain inspiration to live a fulfilled life. It is important for women never to be discouraged in any way. There are myriads of challenges facing women in our society but women should not quit. I have had strong women in my life who have also provided the platform for me to rise beyond my challenges. My Master’s thesis was on women and how they cope with challenges and life generally. It is important for women to have confidence in themselves. Women should strive to be independent and never be a burden on the society. In Nigeria, being a woman is a disadvantage because we are referred to as second class citizens already. Women should also endeavour to obtain sound education, which no one can take away from them. They need to have the courage and confidence to face life. They should not see themselves as inferior in any way. A lot of women are undergoing stress and they are unable to seek professional counsel and this causes serious threat to their health. They should belong to a network of positive women who can tackle challenges together and discuss issues. Women should seek help when they have challenges. There are professionals to seek and find people. There are professional counsellors in churches. They should also engage in hobbies and some activities that will give them inspiration. The older women should also provide counselling for the younger ones in order to support them in life.
Parental roles and responsibilities
Parents need to be alive to their responsibilities. A lot of Nigerian parents have abandoned their functions to the school. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children basic values such as politeness and courtesy. It should be emphasised that the school is meant to reinforce the training parents give their children. Parents should not abdicate their responsibilities to the school. Parents should teach their children basic values so that schools can deliver qualitative learning. Charity actually begins at home. Parents blame schools for performance but they also need to be involved in the learning process. It has been observed over time that parents are nonchalant about the performance of their children academically. The other side of it is that parents blame the school while neglecting their own roles and responsibilities. Parents need to exercise patience in rating schools and this is more of a Nigerian mentality, as parents are quick to blame schools for poor standard. Teachers need to be accorded respect as we are more like parents to the children.