Age before beauty

Young Lagos women contend with both sexism and ageism

Founder of the Lagos Fashion and Design Week Omoyemi Akerele. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

In Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city and one of the fastest growing cities in the world, young women are combatting not only a gender gap, but a generation gap. Creative fields such as art, theater, fashion, dance, film, architecture, and DJing have blossomed in Lagos over the past five years, and women are playing a big role. At the Bonhams Africa Now auctions in London in 2015, more than half the works sold were by Nigerian artists. Nigerian designer Maki Oh’s handmade fabrics are sought after by women including Michelle Obama and Lupita Nyong’o. Women run 41 percent of Nigeria’s early-stage businesses, and 30 percent of all registered entrepreneurial businesses in the country. Ninety percent of all gallery owners and curators in Lagos are women. Nonetheless, Nigerian women earn 23 percent less than men, and men dominate STEM fields, management positions, and other positions of power — of the 360 members in the House of Representatives, only 14 are women.

The status quo, in other words, is older and male, but the growing creative fields are young and diverse. And slowly, the status quo is being forced to change. “Older people are realizing that the financiers of the [creative] industry align with youth and youth culture, so it’s a situation where they have no choice but to give in,” says Nigerian broadcaster Wana Udobang. “If they want to stay relevant in this space, they can’t afford to be hung up over seniority.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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