By Grettelle Gazah
Women are still exposed to gender discrimination. In an attempt to achieve more equitable societies, attain effective democracy and good governance, several legislative instruments have been implemented to bring about equality, but as evident, they have not been fully effective.
Apart from strengthening the democratic system, liberating women favours the taking shape of progressive advancements. It is, therefore, high time to think equal, build smart and innovate for change.
Despite the tremendous efforts being ushered in to enforce full gender balance, men still dominate most influential positions in most constitutions.
The reality is most societies are still lagging behind in recognising the detrimental effects of gender imbalance. This is because they are still attached to the primitive, outdated and uncivilised customs of the past.
Looking back, we encounter some of the injustices women faced in the past.
The painful memory that always surfaces is one of the diabolical methods of marrying that were recognised back then.
Unlike today, marriage back then was oppressive. It was merely a matter of will but a savage way of unjustly using women as mediums to establish communal togetherness and family unions.
To some extent, women were mere possessions that were traded for wealth and fortune. They were actually equated to wealth.
Women in turn were in no position to oppose as these activities were performed under the influence of upholding the principles of unhu/ubuntu and preserving our cultural values and traditions.
The only skill and knowledge that was considered essential was the craft of womanhood and submission to men. Once a girl child had been equipped with the right skill on how to fend for the family, they were forcibly given away into marriage. What defined a woman back then was her ability to bear children and this was considered to be her only gainful service to any society.
Most communities were that women who stood their ground were ill-mannered and as a result women’s activities were limited to the lane paved for them by the older people.
Such injustices resulted in limited progression and development. However, social transformations and advancements eliminated and demolished such barbaric attitudes and granted women an independent existence of their own and a voice to express their views and concerns as well as contribute towards issues affecting them.
In turn, women were empowered to take their position in constituting membership of most institutions. As evident, they are now shouldering responsibility in value creation and are rendering great service at a vast scale to the African continent and the globe as a whole. Through equality, innovation is promoted.
In fact, women are now tackling what were once considered ‘‘male tasks’’.
They now have a say in issues concerning them and they have been granted the right to legal representation if at any point their rights are violated. Gone are the days when they were the inferior and weaker sex.
Modernisation has seen women being equalised to men.
It has been proved that there is more to womanhood than child bearing.
In actual fact, women are just as capable and can even be much better.
The civilisation of women has enabled a tremendous gap to be covered as compared to the days when women were oppressed. Women have proved to be worthy of their place in the society by striving to overcome the obstacles that impede their progress.
At the end of the day we learn to appreciate that women are victors not victims of gender inequality, domestic violence, religious oppression and child marriages. They are in actual fact legendary icons of influence and are even regarded as pace setters for the men. Women are the backbone of any society and are never intimidated by circumstances. They have an incredible way of surviving in the face of calamities and misfortune. They are ambassadors of love and humanity.
It is actually devastating to note that some people still feel the urge to oppress and reduce women. In this day and age we read stories about women being savagely insulted because of their choice of dressing and also their sexuality being exploited by using their bodies and looks for personal needs. What is more disappointing is that you find people ignoring the brutality. We still find sex offenders roaming the streets and child molesters being pardoned for their despicable actions.
Women are still dying as a result of domestic violence and human trafficking is still a huge concern. Some women are being trafficked to countries like Kuwait to be used as sex slaves and some are being used as drug mules.
Women should not be intimidated or victimised by the empty threats passed on by their perpetrators. All forms of abuse and discrimination should be taken into the hands of the law. Legislative instruments are there to uphold our fundamental human rights and serve justice.
Women are empowered to develop the freedom of expression so as to ensure that whoever victimises them is brought to book.
In turn, men should respect and honour women for the significant role they play on a daily basis in our societies. Women should be regarded very highly for they are the backbone of society.
It is said ‘‘the mother is a school, if she is well prepared an entire nation of good morals and behaviours will be nurtured’’.
On the other hand, women should support one another and encourage each other to dress modestly in order to increase their own level of morals and behaviour and guard the society from what is usually regarded as the first step in any illicit relationship – the look that attracts.
Urging women to cover their bodies should not be mistaken to oppressing their feminism but rather to elevate and sanctify it. Women’s beauty and sexual is not for public viewing, they should be treasured and protected rather than displayed and exploited.
Women’s month should not be taken for granted, but it should serve as a reminder and give us time to reflect on the significant role played by women. It should give us good enough reasons to change our negative opinions about women.
Grettelle Gazah is a Form 4 student at Mabelreign Girls High in Harare.
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