It has been ages while the talk of gender equality has been raging across the world. The world systems have been more favourable to the male species. The female and queer ones have been on the receiving end of the spectrum. By systems I mean family, religion and politics among others. It is this systematic bias which is now referred through the buzz word ‘patriarchy’. It’s live and genuine! Therefore, as we think of the advantages that came with ‘modern’ systems such as the myth of democracy and seemingly ’emancipatory’ religions and cultures let us unpack them with an open mindedness that allow us to see how they entrenched some of the seemingly harmful practices that we are trying to run away.
Patriarchy is an intricate system that has little respect to any human being be it male or female, young or old, black or white. Thus we have women who do advocacy for the devil knowingly and unknowingly. So we need to be careful when dealing with it. I’m taking my time to show you reader that in our battle for ‘gender equality’ if ever it exists we become alert to the fact that like any other struggle we may lose the goal. I used the phrase ‘if ever it exists’ in the preceding sentence because I really don’t believe in the myth of equality. I see it as a sexy yet limiting term of what can be achieved by those who have been elbowed to the periphery of the system that favoured men.
So what is it that I am saying. There is a possibility and it has been proven there are better individuals than others in our endeavors. This in most cases has nothing to do with anyone’s genitalia but one’s abilities and potential. So if a woman in my field can be better than me, let it be. The duty and responsibility of policy is supposed to create a level playing field where individuals should be allowed to express themselves culturally, politically and economically without them thinking they owe it to some other person from across the divide.
Maybe, to avoid generalising, I need to draw myself close to a specific context. In this case I have no choice than to write of patriarchy as I see it and speak of the possible way out using the cultural ingredients available to us. As I alluded earlier, the system is intricate. In Africa the complexity fire comes out of a colonial, Christian and ‘traditional’ Africa combination. This combination, if humans in this side are not careful can come up with a refined oppressive force to women. Think of those values that claim women should be reverend, submissive and quiet, those values that claim women’s best place as the home and precisely the kitchen come together. These values are entailed in the components I listed earlier: Christianity, coloniality and traditional Africa.
The school came in and reinforced these ideals with its closeness and connection with colonialism. It created a dangerous tradition that further pushed the African woman on the margins, disenfranchised and dispossessed. The modern workplace became a place of re-enactment of what the individual has been schooled that the phallus is a tool of superiority. Any form of resistance should wary of these trajectories so as to understand that which is needed.
To know what is wanted requires those in the movement (,both men and women) to understand the socioeconomic and sociopolitical history of specific communities. I will discuss these in tandem with three of the most critical areas needed to be won. The three quests I want to talk about in this episode are the quest for space, capital and facts. These are intricately linked and connected to the extent that you can’t do without one.
I have seen countless times the statement that ‘knowledge is power.’ One of their prophets lamented God’s people are perishing because they lack knowledge. It is one of the pillars that has got attention in the struggle for women empowerment. But we should not tire in this are. Fact finding mission should continue unraveling the human (woman) predicament in order to think possibilities and potentialities. It will leave those who diligently seeking it in a wonderful direct confrontation with power.
After writing this I came across a reading that threatened me into deleting this messy you are reading upto a time I read this part which I think sits one of the objectives under discussion. Have you ever taken time to think around these questions: ‘What had our mothers been doing then that they had no wealth to leave us?” or have you considered to think of the ‘…effect poverty has on the mind and what effect wealth has on the mind’ or have you ever thought ‘…of the safety and prosperity of the one sex and of the poverty of the other.” (Virginia Woolf, 1929) If you are (anti-) feminist and haven’t read this one please consider her work called A Room of One’s Own.
Quest for space
My basic knowledge of business as existence is being termed nowadays tells me that space (land) is the basis for everything. That’s the reason why Woolf in the cited essay just thought of owning her own room as a writer ninety years ago. Without space, one is merely a squatter. Ownership of space empowers a woman with the ground to spread her wings of creativity. Real and tangible space will take the woman from the traditional spaces limited to the kitchen and child bearing to some other industries which man alone is not doing enough.
Let me borrow this concept I have been using for a time in my private conversations with friends from the Karanga tradition. I will call it ‘dura ramai‘ (mother’s granary). To have a granary one has to have a piece of land. In Karanga tradition a mother used to have a field after her name. The harvest would be stored in a granary (warehouse) belonging to her and no one would dare touch it without her consent. How sweet is this. I wish to see this kind of independence in the endless circles where women are found. Borrowing from this concept might leave us with a more empowered woman outside the conference rooms in some academic institution or hotel.
Another crucial component to the empowerment of a formerly (un) empowered person. Ideas and space without capital can be useless in a world where capital has become a demi-god. Even one of their sacred books has this to say, ‘money solveth all things’. If they’re to call you to some gender equality conference please beg them to give you that money for you to use to start that project that has been on hold😂.
Let me conclude by saying all I have been trying to say is I think before or after being a woman, she is a human being. She has her special needs because of her womanness but she has full rights each being has.