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Equality in Nigeria: The oversized women of the Dragon Squad


Emem Thomas is an exception: the Nigerian has set up a security service that only employs women. In doing so, she questions macho role models – and supposed ideals of beauty.

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A little work-out between two assignments in the Nigerian city of Uyo.

Emem Thomas trains with her team in a park.

When their employees are hired, they trade training clothes for body armor, boots and walkie-talkies because Emem Thomas is the head of Dragon Squad – a private security company that only works for women.

Emem Thomas, founder of Dragon Squad:

»In the beginning we had to fight against many prejudices and prove to people that we have the situation under control at events.

That was not easy.

When our gender came up in discussions with customers, the reaction was usually: 'You can't handle a situation like this.

We prefer male security guards.'”

Business is good: 43 employees now work for the security service.

The team celebrated its fourth company anniversary this year.

During this time, the Dragon Squad has accompanied around 2000 events - house parties, funerals, political events or disco evenings.

Emem Thomas, founder of Dragon Squad:

“We have several measures.

One of them we call 'executive abuse'.

If a dangerous situation arises, we apply these measures, mediate the conflict and control the situation until the event is over.«

Women are structurally disadvantaged in Nigeria in terms of equality, education and work.

Only a good half of girls and women over the age of 15 can read and write - for men it is 71 percent.

And: According to estimates, women only get paid half as much as men if both work in the same job.

Employers like Dragon Squad are therefore important.

They not only offer fairly paid jobs for women, but also create new perspectives.

Peace Vigorous, Associate:

»Before I joined the Dragon Squad, I thought that women could only be seamstresses, hairdressers, shop assistants or housewives.

Now I know that women can do more.

We are strong and can also assert ourselves in male domains.«

It took Emem Thomas a lot of stamina and confidence to get through the early days.

Qualities that she had to acquire first.

For years, Thomas had had to listen to derogatory comments about her body.

As a teenager, she was teased for it.

With Dragon Squad, Thomas now wants to break up gender clichés and question supposed ideals of beauty.

Emem Thomas, founder of Dragon Squad:

»When it comes to female applicants, the first thing I look at is their figure, because only tall, strong women work on my team.

For me, that is the most important aspect, only then do I talk about their passions and qualifications.«

The women of Dragon Squad have now gained respect - and are thus contributing a small part to social rethinking.

Savior Ikpa, Guest:

»Today I saw agile, charming and beautiful women at work.

They say: ›What a man can do, a woman can do even better.‹ I saw that with these women today.


Emem Thomas and her team have already given many people food for thought.

However, the road to equality in Nigeria is long.

The strong women of Dragon Squad play their part.

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2023-01-28

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