Emancipation, feminism, suffrage, and the general strength of character of women have led to greater gender equality – on paper. Now, women are being attacked from different sides. On the one hand, those who find themselves in positions of power have to prove themselves by being tougher, harder, stronger, and meaner than their male counterparts. Meanwhile, those that choose to be homemakers or carers are told they continue to be oppressed. So is it possible for a woman to be what she wants to be, without having to conform to other norms? Can a woman be involved in politics, while being righteous at the same time? According to Nenadi Usman, they absolutely can.
Senator Nenadi Esther Usman
Nenadi Esther Usman is the former finance minister from the state of Southern Kaduna in Nigeria. Being from Kaduna, Esther Nenadi comes from a traditional background. For her to take on a position of economic and financial minister sent shockwaves through her community, good and bad. But Nenadi Esther took this one step further as well. She became Esther Usman by marrying a man of Muslim faith, as opposed to her own Christian faith. Today, Esther Nenadi Usman has retired from politics, although not from public life. In fact, today, she wants to empower other women to become the best they can be, and to break through the barriers and restrictions placed upon them by society in general.
But most of all, Nenadi Esther wants to demonstrate that it is absolutely possible for a woman to be both righteous and involved in politics. She herself, as stated, is married to a Muslim man, joining in an interfaith relationship. Yet, within that, she has been able to not just hang on to her own faith, but continue her work as a minister as well. If that is not the path of the righteous, one in which two faiths can exist side by side in peace and harmony, then nothing else is.
Across, the world, however, it is noticeable that those women who do make it far in politics – Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Theresa May – almost have to give up on some of the things that most would feel makes them feminine. They must work twice as hard to prove their worth, showing that they can do the job as well, if not better, than a man, while constantly having their wardrobe choices, hairstyles, and makeup questioned by the general public. And, at the same time, these women also aim to show themselves as intrinsically feminine, with all the soft skill attributes that naturally come with this. For many, this is incredibly conflicting.
Not for Nenadi, however, who feels that being a woman is empowering as it is. She wants to set herself apart as a role model: a woman who is both a politician (in economics and finances no less) and who prides herself in her skills and knowledge, and a woman who is righteous and who prides herself in her caring nature.