Harnessing The Power Of Womanhood For Community And National Development 
This is the second part of a lecture that was presented at activities of the International Women’s Day Celebration organised by Total Nigeria on 12th of March at Port Harcourt.
In the first part, we looked at the power of womanhood from a biological point of view and a few women who accomplished great feats when gender was not imposed as a restraint.
Preservative and Expansile Power of Womanhood
The Hebrew for male is “ish”, and female is “isha” meaning womb-man.
One of the main distinguishing characteristics of a female is the womb. If you bury a man and a woman the same day, under the same conditions, without embalming them, the muscular organs of both male and female species will decay; however, the last to decay is the womb.
A non-pregnant womb is about the size of the head of a normal microphone or the size of a fist of the woman, but it can expand to carry a baby or multiple babies, placenta and amniotic fluid, and membranes. Only a thick muscle at the neck of the womb holds the pregnancy.
There are two key intrinsic abilities here—the ability to preserve and the ability to expand to handle more responsibilities placed on a woman. If you give a woman a sperm cell, she gives you back a child and nurtures him or her to become a human being.
These expansile and preservative capacities must be valued and developed in womanhood for national and community development.
Bangladesh has crawled out of the pit of poverty, leaving Nigeria behind as the global poverty capital. Firstly, they intensified their efforts towards raising the education levels of women. This increased literacy rate, reduced teenage pregnancies, and this in turn reduced maternal mortality rates. With the education of mothers, infant mortality rates dropped. The ability of women to sew clothes was developed. Women were given training in the garment industries. Unemployment rate among women dropped and disposable incomes amongst women increased.
The Grameen Bank by Muhammad Yunus introduced micro credit to women. They found out that women were able to manage small loans more than males. They did not buy cigarettes, get drunk, or spend it on the members of the opposite sex like males. They also found out that women were better in paying off loans than males.
Their prime minister is currently a woman, and she is the longest serving prime minister of Bangladesh, an Islamic Nation; she has been there since January 6th, 2009, just like Angela Merkel has been the chancellor of Germany for 13 years, just like late Margaret Thatcher of the UK who served for 11 years.
Women can juggle marriage, raising children, doing business, going to work, doing ministry, and several other things at once. The husband of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 could sit at the city gates with his mates because he had a competent woman at home. He also allowed her to function and express one power of womanhood, which is initiative.
The female species of most animals, from the hen to the dog, are very protective of their families. Male species usually fight over territories more because of sex and breeding.
Golda Meir was the prime minister of Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Several Arab nations ganged together and invaded Israel on October 6th, 1973 during one of the holiest days in Israel as they were praying. The Arab nations had an element of surprise and gained much ground. Israel had very few tanks and ammunition against this massive onslaught.
Golda Meir saw the nation in her care about to be annihilated and the preservative instincts of womanhood made her to place a call to Richard Nixon of the United States of America. She demanded for ammunition and military hardware. Contrary to advice, Nixon ordered one of the most massive airlifts of military materials to assist another nation within a short period of time.
It was Operation Nickel Grass 567 flights carried ammunition and military hardware to Israel. Within a few days, the tide changed, and Israel gained the upper hand. Nixon’s mother was a very religious woman of the Quaker Faith. She is said to have had Bible studies with Nixon and she would always tell her about God’s people Israel. When Nixon sat to take that decision, he heard the voice of his mother. Nixon’s mother and Golda Meir made Nixon to preserve the nation of Israel.
According to Gioconda Belli, “There is a biological power that is intrinsic to the woman, to the female condition. Because you are able to give life. You are the reproducer of the species. Men feel very weak in front of a woman because a woman is capable of eliciting a number of instincts in a man. And that is what has made men very nervous about women.”
As women develop, so does a nation. Research has shown that rats that are licked by their mothers at birth were more intelligent than those not licked by their mothers. The ones licked by their mothers also licked their offspring, and they too were more intelligent.
Sigmund Freud postulated that the personality of an adult is formed to 75% degree within the first five years of life. Children spend more of this time in school and with their mothers, and at this age bracket, they are mostly handled by females. Therefore, females determine the character of a nation to a great degree.
A nation is an amalgam of families, and families are made up fathers and mothers. If only the male folks are developed and given opportunities, then there will be developmental imbalance, because a society is like a table with four legs—two for males and two for females. When there is a developmental imbalance, no solid structure can be built on it.
Rwanda, after the genocide, decided to practice gender equality or balance. Rwanda has the highest ratio of female parliamentarians in the world, 61% in the lower house. Paul Kagame appointed 50% of his cabinet as women. Kigali is now one of the most beautiful cities in Africa. Their educational system has so improved that parents are now withdrawing their children from private schools and sending them to government-owned schools.
However, our women must not develop an entitlement mentality. You cannot wear fake eyelashes, fake hair, fake finger nails, fake breasts, and fake buttocks with an empty brain and expect to be taken seriously. There must be a deliberate attempt by feminists to emphasise passion for excellence in all aspects of life instead of an unbalanced emphasis on fashion and looks.
Golda Meir said rightly that “Not being beautiful was the true blessing. Not being beautiful freed me to develop my inner resources. The pretty girl has a handicap.” She also said, “Fashion is an imposition, a reign on freedom.” She further stated that to be successful, a woman needs to be better than a man in her job. Our feminists need to emphasise these hard truths to our young girls very early in life. Women are not inferior; they must prove those who think otherwise wrong. “Whether women are better than men I cannot say—but they are certainly not worse.” Golda Meir.
There is a strength in womanhood that religious folks fear and want to contain. It is a double-edged sword. Women can take risks that men sometimes fear to take if they are properly trained, groomed, empowered and mentored. Strong men can help their wives develop this capacity. Eve took the wrong initiative because Adam was negligent of his leadership role. Abraham was weak in allowing Sarah to run the show over childbirth. The promise and the call were with Abraham. Lot had his own character flaws of desperation; hence his wife and two daughters were also desperate. However, women like Deborah, Jael, Ruth, Naomi, Tamar, Rahab and several others took steps that changed the course of their family history or their nation. Hannah made a vow without consulting her husband, but it changed their fortune.
Al Quaraouiyine University, Fez, Morocco
It will surprise you to know that the oldest, continuous, degree-awarding university was established by a Muslim woman. In 850 AD, Fatima and her sister, Mariam, that were well-educated inherited a large amount of money from their father, Mohammed Al-Fihri, who was a merchant. The two sisters decided to build a mosque and a Madrassa with all their wealth. This eventually became a university that the children of the Muslim elite from all over north Africa, Southern Europe, and the Middle East attend.
You will notice two things here. Sound education and inheritance rights. If females, daughters, and wives can’t inherit properties of their husbands or their fathers, or have a share, then the managerial abilities of womanhood cannot be harnessed. For every woman that failed to manage an inheritance well, I will show you 20 men that squandered an inheritance.
So many years ago, in the mid-1970s, a woman lost her husband and she was left with four daughters she had for that man. She had an older girl from a previous marriage. When the family sat to decide the fate of the widow and her daughters, she asked what the family would do about the second daughter that was in secondary school. She was bluntly told that they were not ready to train a girl child. They told her that if they trained a girl and she eventually marries, they would have laboured in vain. The tall huge woman stood up and asked the cost of the fees. When she heard it, she said that she would trade and train her daughter.
She sold starch and kpokpo garri or tapioca then. True to her word she trained this girl. She had to resided as a house help to several of her relatives just to get a place to live. One of her uncles was so bad that he would send his car to carry his children, who were attending the same missionary school with this girl, but the girl would not be allowed to enter the car.
The girl eventually met a young medical student who encouraged her to go to nursing school. She was 19 and the boy was 21 years when they met. The young man graduated and married the girl during National Youth Service (NYSC) when she finished her nursing training. After several years, they opened their own hospital when the young doctor was 29 years old in 1988. They subsequently sold the hospital and went into ministry work. They laboured and struggled together. They eventually opened a school that grew and they became rich.
In old age, the mother spent her life in comfort and had a very befitting burial. The girl the family said they should not train became the pride of the family. Her son became a doctor in Europe, her daughter became an educationist that manages their school. She has a third child that is doing PhD in software engineering in Europe, and their last child is doing a master’s degree in Europe.
To reward the hard work of the wife, the husband is building a big school in the mother’s village. When the school is finished, a big photograph of the mother who gave a fair chance and invoked the preservative power of womanhood, will be placed in front of the school. That girl is my wife, Mrs. Apoki Felicia and the woman that harnessed, and developed the power in my wife is my late mother-in-law.
“The greatest mistake that any man could ever make is to underestimate or treat with levity the power of a woman. For it is only a dullard or a fool that could honestly believe that he can confine a woman to having babies and to simply cooking in the kitchen. A woman is irrepressible, unbeatable, unfathomable, irresistible and unknowable and my advice to every man is to cherish her, to love her and to grant her, her hearts deepest desires.” Femi Fani-Kayode.
God bless all good women of the world.