The Sunday Mail
Our generation should do away with stereotyping women and pre-decorating men with laurels before performance. At birth, either male or female, the intellectual potential each one possesses is the same.
Men tend to exercise their intelligence often because society trains them to do so, whilst women and female children are left stagnant and their abilities atrophy because the environment that shapes women behaviour expects less of their mental indulgence due to prejudice.
The investments that families extend towards their children tend to be determined by gender; obviously most regard the male child as deserving much and the female child less because she will elope or get married. The old institutions of society were not encouraging the empowering of women and the girl child; therefore, many have relinquished their academic pursuits for housework. The old set-up and the current set-up need to be radically challenged in order to stimulate intellectual potential and creativity which is dormant within the girl child in your home.
That is real women empowerment. When a woman is empowered, she has less insecurities, therefore her vulnerability is minimum due to the protective shield that comes with success.
Empowering women must begin within homes. Empowerment refers to the act of conferring legality or sanction or formal warrant.
Merriam-Webster defines it as: “the state of being empowered to do something: the power, right, or authority to do something or authority to perform various acts or duties”.
This definition relates to a status quo where an atmosphere is not pro-women.
Already we are dealing with the issue of women empowerment from a tilted base.
The ground is not level and it is usually the men who have an upper hand in most of the positions and these petitions we write and advocate for, we only do so in the hope that the men in authority will heed to the cry and create a level playing field for the woman and the girl child.
Talk of access to education, access to better health care, access to technology, access to opportunities. Society generally propel boy children towards education and the girl child is shoved towards marriage material. The available health care facilities within most communities in Africa are not ready to tackle the predicament of the girl child and her menses. There is absolute shortage of sanitary wear within most communities and discussions about these issues are taboo. The girl child gets a Barbie doll where a boy child gets a palm-top or a smart phone for a toy.
This is how society is wired and the outcome is suppression of the girl child’s expression of abilities. It means the girl child has to work extra hard to compete with the boy child of the same age.
They will start to rise from a very low level and study shows that it’s very difficult for someone who is at the very bottom to be seen by opportunity. Let us change this negative perception of esteeming the masculine child over the feminine. That is where real empowerment starts from. It begins with change of perception within families. The attempt of empowering women should begin from the inside-out.
It does not necessarily have to start on a national or global scale but at family level.
Over the years, institutions have been set up with the goal to empower women and to ensure they are secure. Many have thrived, though we cannot quantify the level of success statistically because we still see the struggle of women daily in society. It is still a fight in many parts of the world to see women empowered.
As long as this issue is still being talked about, then it means there is a lot to be desired even though many organisations claim to have exhausted the challenges that women face day in day out. The matter of gender is also still being a barrier to the empowerment of women in the developed world; how much more of an impediment it is in our beloved Africa?
In Europe they have organisations like The European Institute for Gender Equality and many other feminist organisations fighting for women’s rights and voice.
The United States of America has organisations like the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Women Employed Organisation which is a non-profit advocacy organisation based in Chicago.
All these are attempts to place women at par with men with regard to equal access to opportunity and the privilege to be heard. The bigger question remains: “If women advocacy is also found in the developed world, how much more do we need it here in Africa?”
We have many demons to deal with: talk of child marriages, physical abuse of women, misogyny in the corporate and religious circle, social exclusion and sexual objectification of women; the list goes on. The World Vision website stipulates the seven ways to empower women in Africa. On their list is the provision of the ticket to education, providing clean water, supporting women and girls who are in a crisis such as those subjected to child labour, human trafficking, physical abuse and protecting girls and women by equipping skilled local staff to offer training, education, counselling, medical care, small business loans, and other programs that reach women and girls.
Their list also talks of mentoring the girl child who is close to you at home, investing in their small businesses, using your voice to speak up for women and the girl child, helping new mothers with things like diapers and last but not least; telling the woman who is close to you that you care for them.
The list carries a package that focuses on a woman. As long as we have a woman within our range, we can reach out with any of the above tool in order to help. The issue of women empowerment and protection should not only be a burden for Non-Governmental Organisations which are working in our African countries.
The misogyny against women is intense in our African communities and therefore advocacy should begin with us even before we expect aid towards the cause from the international community. They can only do so much, but we are living with this pain day in day out, therefore, we should do much towards emancipation of women. Its disheartening to see the disadvantaged woman has brothers, sisters and a family who have neglected her.
Let us advocate and always prioritise the needs of a girl child within our homes so that as they grow up they are encouraged to conquer the world around and beyond them.
Quote of the week : Silence a woman and deprive the nation of contributions from more than half its population.
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