In Zimbabwe’s traditional set up, as in most developing nations, a girl child’s education was viewed as a clear waste of resources because she would get married and all the knowledge she would have acquired was perceived as primarily benefitting her in-laws.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin and her depiction of her society would suggest this was more or less the case with women in the West, especially those from not-so-well-off families although they were economically liberated much sooner than their fellow sisters in the developing world who still based their livelihoods solely on marriage.
However, with Zimbabwe fast letting go of a system that had for long made the male species superior beings, education for girls has become quite a major priority.
It is not an unfamiliar sight these days to visit any university’s lecture room and observe a 50:50 distribution between male and female students. And the women haven’t disappointed, fast proving themselves to be on a par with their male counterparts and vigorously undertaking all the professions, even those that were traditionally reserved for men.
On having acquired their degrees and diplomas, most young women seem to have nothing else on their minds except to make it in the world. And by that we are not talking about finding a husband and making babies, but a well-paying job, comfortable living quarters and a nice car which they can boast of having acquired on their own.
And then there is the “many fish in the sea” attitude that the ladies have adopted concerning choosing marriage partners.
“I will not settle down with just anyone, I need the perfect partner!” said one 20something -year-old female, adding that it did not matter if she had to wait the rest of her life for that “perfect” man. This is mostly because unlike in the past where happiness in a marriage was considered a matter of chance, today’s women see it (happiness) as everything and are generally not willing to join in matrimony until they are certain they have landed their “Mr Right”.
Unfortunately, because many men naturally have quite a number of flaws, finding the “perfect” one has proven a task for many a lady and by the time they finally realise there might actually be nothing called the “perfect man” time would indeed have passed by.
The fact that the young women, most of whom are career-driven and view early marriage and all that comes with it as a hindrance to climbing the corporate ladder, are more pre-occupied with their jobs than settling down has not helped.
Although we cannot dispel the fact that we still have women who would marry “at the proper time” because they need a sense of security and because it’s what’s expected of them, most, especially those that have careers, are not under pressure to get married and no longer appear to value the “married” status as much.
But because when they reach a certain “mature” age, the professional single women tend to feel the need for something more than work to give life a fuller meaning, they get to yearn for children. Unfortunately, as it turns out, most Zimbabwean men still tend to feel threatened by independent successful women and finding devoted, well-functional men to settle with has proven quite a challenge for most ladies, especially those of a more mature age. As a very last resort, most have had to have children out of wedlock, something that, although not Zimbabwean, most people are starting to accept. Today it’s not uncommon to see single successful mothers.
Given such a scenario, one wonders if there will ever be a proper balance between women’s careers and their societal expectations and if the marriage institute will survive.