International Women’s Day

“Equality is a right. The choice to challenge drivers of inequality is the way to a fair and equitable society.”

Today being International Women’s Day I’m drawn to the topic and not only because it’s the talk of the town but because there’s nothing more important to talk at such a time. Yes, you got it right and I’m unapologetic about it. I believe in women and their ability to nurture and grow wherever they are. Growing up in a local village with both parents as teachers, Mom used to teach, work with us in the farm, go to the market and when you thought she’d get rest, you’d be mistaken. She would be in her kitchen garden either tending to her onions or picking up weeds from the vegetable terraces. That’s how she was and growing up seeing how hardworking and industrious as she was, there was nothing other than to be hardworking. It’s hilarious that these days we argue over being workaholics for which I remember her considering enrolling all her children to a school where they taught people how to take rest. In case you have any ideas, please let me know she’s willing to pay and we all are ready and willing to enroll.

Why is it an important topic for me to champion for women empowerment? In my community most often it was women who came to school to follow up on their children’s performance and academic progress, I don’t remember seeing many fathers do that. Whenever we had concerns to be addressed being my dad was the disciplinarian, Mom was the route because at the least she would listen and give you a chance to express yourself especially when you weren’t as confident as you ought to be. That was the life. Having grown up to ask for anything I needed from Dad, he would always say they would consult with Mom and get back to me. It wasn’t that he didn’t have the power to do so but he knew they had a family with shared responsibility and as such they had an equal say on our family affairs. Those days I doubt there was anything to do with feminism and if so it didn’t have roots deep in my village but my Dad knew better and chose to challenge the norms of women being lesser than men. She didn’t misuse the privilege for we are better people out of her guidance, care, love and support. What if all women were able to exercise their power and authority in spaces they occupied?

Having elder sisters as we know these are deputy parents and worse than actual parents, they did their fair share of disciplining us (younger brothers). Often times been cheeky we would pull stunts and all hoping they’d relent but they never did. The terrible bit of it was that our parents would side with them on such occasions so we had to toe the line. I wasn’t happy with it especially doing laundry, cooking, cleaning the house etc. but I had to. It later became a norm and I joke about it that in such a patriarchal society, I ended up with “U-mama” doing the jobs people considered womanly and I’m not ashamed of it. These are life skills not gendered-skills.

Today at the office we had a chat with a colleague on the whole issue of women empowerment which to a greater extent we agreed that there’s need to focus on women empowerment and do it right. This meant that the advances made so far have made some difference but to make it sustainable it needs a society-wide appraisal & uptake. We all need to see the value of women and women by themselves have to appreciate the value their have to offer to the society. Through the discussion we threw around some women leaders in our spaces and one thing that came out was that these women are beneficiaries of women empowerment but rather than be women and inject some level of sobriety, they became men in their conduct and behavior. This brought to me the memories of my childhood days where as far as I can recollect women were moral guides and pillars. That’s why they were the individuals responsible for raising families knowing they would impart values to their children. This was anchored on their religious tendencies which still persists to this day except for the fact that with so much evil in the society some of our women have gone that road.

I still believe that there’s hope and the hope is in the women who unapologetically stand their ground to be women of value. The women who handle their business, stand up for what’s right and those to genuinely and honestly pursue justice. While they do this, it’s upon us as members of the society to make a choice to enable them be able to do all these without hindrances. If my father who is turning 70 years had the wisdom to make the right choice, why shouldn’t I emulate his example? For this, I choose to do better, to challenge the norms, to further societal transformation towards gender equality knowing it’s the right thing and that I can do the right thing. I ask of you to do the same.

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