The man in the picture above is named Warson. The little girl he’s holding is his daughter, Hawaou. At first sight, this picture might not seem extraordinary. However, when the head of Unicef Niger, Viviane Van Steirteghem, saw these two waiting for the doctor, she had to stop.
You see: she isn’t used to seeing a Nigerien man taking one of his children – let alone his daughter – to the doctor. It’s frowned upon by other men, she explains, when a husband helps in the household. Especially in the rural areas. She’s sceptic of this duo and asks Warson if his wife is sick. ‘No’, Warson replies. ‘I often take my children to the doctor. It’s just something I do.’ Because of the rarity of this sight, we ask him if we can take a picture. Warson agrees, adorably cleans up Hawaou and then poses with her.
It’s not a coincidence I’m posting this story today. As you probably have seen on social and mainstream media, it’s International Women’s Day today. And so, even though Warson obviously isn’t a woman, I felt like he deserved to be put in the spotlight. He doesn’t care about social standards and takes his daughter to the doctor instead of lying in the shades and letting his wife do the far journey to get medical assistance.
However, Warson is the only man we saw at a health centrum in Niger – and we visited a lot of those centra. Gender equality still has a long journey ahead. And not only in Niger or in Africa.
In the Western world we still haven’t reached equal pay – and I wonder, how hard can that be? Women are still being objectified. And too often victims of rape and harassment still aren’t heard.
I realize I have used the word still in every sentence of this last paragraph. Can you blame me? It’s 2017. How come we STILL aren’t even close to gender equality? Gender Equality is one of the UN’s Suistainable Develoment Goals. But why wait till 2030? I want to see it now.
That said, I also believe gender equality shouldn’t just be about the big changes.Society also evolves with small gestures. What Warson is doing gives me hope that globally things might be changing.
Some other inspiring and interesting stories in response to Women’s Day:
– The story of the illiterate Ethiopian succes doctor