Women’s emancipation is the promotion of women’s social, economic, political, and human rights, especially regarding equality of the two genders.  It has its pros and cons.  Some say advantages of women’s liberation include: Reduction in birthrate, as the tendency to have children later in life, is higher; Decrease in human rights abuse rate, as established women are less likely to be dependent on men who could subject them to abuse; Diminished poverty, as fewer children create more funds to manage the family and meet needs.  Others opine that disadvantages of women’s emancipation include: The likelihood of gender equality diminishing the essence of gender identity, lessening what each gender brings to the table; Women with questionable characters insisting people respect them because of their status in society. While women’s liberation in western countries is far more advanced than those in Africa and other countries, and the proliferation of media in both worlds gives room to the adaptation of inappropriate norms and practices, these unfitting morals increase societal decadence.

Several western authors penned that in the African society, women were regarded as second-class citizens and were not allowed to be politically involved in the formation of the government, even after most African countries won their independence.  Other authors refuted this position, arguing that authors such as Chinua Achebe portrayed women based on their traditionally associated roles, which are mostly limited to household chores.  Though some authors criticized Achebe’s presentation of women in his writings as of the weaker and rather insignificant gender, their views are far from the actual practices of the Igbo traditional woman he wrote portrayed. In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo submission to the priestess’ commands, suggests that men accord the same kind of respect as men in African when the assumes the role of authority in Igbo communities. In Igoland, the patriarchal structure is prevalent with specified gender roles, while various restrictions make specific traditional values with stipulated gender roles.

The common denominator in most societies, as pointed out by the Chair of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s Committee on Women and Development, is the “primary development policies in many countries… which still do not take into account differences in income and power between men and women, hampering efforts to finance programs that reduce inequality.  [Besides], she says, most African women are still denied education and employment, and have limited opportunities in trade, industry, and government”.

Achebe’s successive novels, “The Man of The People” and “Anthills of the Savanah,” portray the uses of education as a tool to restore the role of the women in society.  Author Loide N Muunda accentuates Achebe’s presentation of “women as highly educated, strong, brave, intelligent, political activists, defiant, conservative, respectful, having successful careers, persistent, not conceited, selfless, intimidating, businesswomen running clothing empires, school heads of prestigious private schools, members of statutory boards, and dominating men in relationships.”

That said, women can make important decisions in society and fight for human rights if educated; however, the education of the girl child should be put in perspective, where they are not mixing up the terms “equality” for “identity.”  On the flip side, what is the scope of this education?  Does it exclude the domestication training of women as it were in the days of old?  Do gender role duties mean women are less inferior and that they are not allowed to make their own choices?  Perhaps a quantitative historical view of societal issues will provide a window into the degree of emancipation we should be addressing.

Today, divorce, sexual abuse, rape, killing rates of women are on the rise.  Could it be that women are victims of these mishaps because of their quest to be liberated?  Let’s consider the following questions:  How much education is too much? Has this left many women without husbands? Has this left many homes without men? What is the impact of women’s emancipation on their self-worth?  Is there such a thing as gender equality?  Can a man and woman be equal?  What is causing the increase in rape?  Are these abusive men raised more by single women? This panel discussion examines women’s emancipation and the negative or positive impact on society.