With unemployment (33%) and underemployment (23%) at an all-time high in Nigeria, people who find any form of employment consider themselves lucky and are most likely willing to endure a toxic work environment to keep their jobs. For women, the working environment all too often remains a challenging one. Issues such as bullying, sexual harassment, emotional and financial abuse and broader inequality which they experience in wider society follow them to the workplace. In fact, the myriad of intersectional factors that contribute to gender inequality are particularly complex in the workplace. In these environments, the heightened socio-political relationships that people are required to form to succeed, as well as the sheer volume of different interactions we undertake every day, mean that women face a broad set of challenges.
Intersectional issues such as deep-rooted patriarchy, boy-preference, normalisation of transactional sex in exchange for career advancement (sextortion), socio-economic disadvantage, lack of relevant policies and processes to prevent abuse (or indeed to hold perpetrators accountable), “seniority”, lack of representation in leadership positions, and beyond, make many a workplace difficult for women to excel and thrive. These issues form the adverse kinematics that women and girls have to contend with in their private and professional lives.
Given that most adults spend the majority of their waking life at work these communities help shape not only our productivity and prosperity but psychological and emotional well-being too. Women should not be forced to avoid work (again, part of the problem) to escape potentially abusive situations, and so the question becomes how do we transform them?