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Women and Nation Building: Do they make better nation builders?

Women and Nation Building: Do they make better nation builders?

There is this argument which I came across in the recent past about women being better and preferable nation builders than men. A lot of blogs and websites have discussed on the issue at length and stressed on the importance of including women in the process of nation building. Though I never had any form of interest in the topic of discussion, I started paying attention after getting involved in a debate involved in a debate.

Nation Building is a concept which is very broad and open to interpretation. Disciplinarians have different takes on what it entails. The way an economist would define the concept would be slightly different from that of a sociologist or political scientist. But if we were to encapsulate all their ideas and profer an all-encompassing definition, it would basically mean fostering socioeconomic & political development, peaceful coexistence & social harmony, and political stability. These might not be all the facets of nation building, but they are the most essential aspects of it. 

Looking at this argument about females being better nation builders on a more pragmatic level and with critical discernment, one cannot say that women have been denied the opportunity to be involved in nation building, and to also say that women are better and more desirable nation builders than men without any form of prejudice on my part, might be a flim flam and sorry to say, baseless, inconspicuous and unsubstantiated. Consequently, this thriving falsehood must be debunked in a post-truth society like ours.

Innovation is a key factor in nation building. A leader has to go through a lot of thought processing to be able to create ideas that can achieve this goal, and men are the ones who’ve mostly achieved this. However, I am not forestalling the fact that there aren’t female nation builders who are significantly better than a lot of male leaders out there. Political and economic ideologies (not restricted to the Western ideals) that were developed in the 20th and 21st century, and are still in use today can be attributed to the work of male critical thinkers and dogged and astute researchers. There have been male leaders throughout history who have promoted social harmony within their countries and with their neighbouring states.

So, what difference have women made in leadership that they can be regarded as “better” and “more desirable” nation builders? Like I stated earlier, debating this issue has to be done on a pragmatic standpoint and with the use of analogies. I would like to also state that I am not a misogynist – I don’t hate women. I am only being a realist here and as a human, I am entitled to my own opinions. I also believe that no gender has the monopoly when it comes to building a nation.

When it comes to socioeconomic development, have female leaders actually outperformed their male counterparts. Infrastructural development, economic growth and prosperity, lower poverty rates and higher standard of living are the basis of socioeconomic development and also, important elements of a functioning society. There are lots of female leaders who were given the opportunity to lead their country and who still failed miserably in their attempts to achieve this. There are a plethora of female leaders in developed, developing and underdeveloped countries who bit the dust when it comes to this aspect of nation building.

Past female leaders like Margaret Thatcher, who served as a prime minister of the United Kingdom, a first world, technologically advanced and modernised country, and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, who was the first female president of Liberia, a third world, developing nation, could not record any commendable progress in this aspect of nation building during their administration. The economic policies and reforms of Margaret Thatcher couldn’t help foster greater economic prosperity in the UK. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate in the country increased tremendously under her watch. Ellen Johnson had a worse case. During her 12-year reign as Liberia’s president from 2006 to 2018, Liberia was still ranked among the top 10 poorest countries in the world. Under her rule, economic development was elusive, there was a noticeable increase in corruption. In addition, the country had more economic decline than growth under her rule.

Ellen Johnson

This aspect of nation building is still a male dominated field. Take a look at countries such as the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America and Qatar, which other less developed countries look up to in terms of socioeconomic development. Who were/are the political figureheads behind this success? Male leaders of course.

Social Harmony and Peaceful Coexistence is another very vital aspect of nation building which some people choose to overlook. It is far beyond having a strong army. A nation cannot develop meaningfully and effectively without these two components. No clearheaded individual would ever wish to be entangled in war, conflict or communal clashes. You can liken this situation to what is being faced by the Anambra State Governor, who is trying his possible best to ensure that those causing havoc in the name of Sit-at-Home are eventually brought to their knees. He cannot proceed with his plans for the state when the insecurity situation has not been properly handled. 

Sorry for digressing a little, but moving on, have women made a difference in this aspect of nation building that they can be considered more better and desirable. There is this joke which I’ve always been sighting on the social media that goes, “When you have a female president, there will be no war, just a bunch of jealous countries”. But is this aphorism in any way axiomatic. Sylvie Kinigi is an example of a woman who couldn’t achieve this aspect of nation building. During her time as the president of Burundi, there was a worsened crisis. She couldn’t ensure communal peace and this made the ethnic tension between the Hutu and Tutsi to escalate into a full-blown cataclysm. The events in the country also left the economy of the nation-state in comatose.

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Sylvie Kinigi

When it comes to political instability, the problem is mostly attributed to men, deterring the fact that there were female leaders who didn’t make a positive impact either. In the United Kingdom, its citizens do not discuss about the most divisive political leader in their history without referring to Margaret Thatcher. The baroness was regarded as a highly controversial politician who was emblematic of divisive politics that led to political upheavals in the country.

Corruption is an act that subverts nation building as it hampers on market conditions and destroys the validity of a political structure. A lot of females opine that men are more corrupt because issues of corruption are automatically directed at male figures but there are lots of scientific studies which disprove this assertion, excluding the notion about women being incorruptible, thereby making it fallacious. Ever heard of Indira Gandhi who was a Prime Minister of India, she was discovered to be guilty of electoral fraud in 1975 and she was impugned for that. In Nigeria, we cannot openly discuss about some of the worst cases of financial corruption without mentioning that of a lady named Diezani Alison Madueke, who served as a Minister of Petroleum Resources during the Goodluck Jonathan Administration. She plundered billions of dollars which could have been useful in reviving various sectors.

If the U.S.A. as a country which has achieved some aspects of nation building preferred, desired and were hungry for female leaders to build their country, Hillary Clinton would have defeated Donald Trump at the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections with a landslide.

As I prepare to close this chapter of one heck of a ‘bloviate’ and egress to focus on other day’s activities, I would like to reiterate what I opined earlier and that is, no gender has the monopoly in nation building. Women cannot be considered better when it comes to having the key to a greater and better society, but I am neither forestalling the fact that there are men who’ve done much worse in ruining their countries e.g. Nigeria. It is people who possess ideas that are able to run a country smoothly, not a specific gender.

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