Eddy Aniekan in her words says “a strong woman holds on when she should give up. She stays strong for everyone else, but has to cry her heart out in private. They raise amazing gentle men, nurture and feed them with discipline. They are the real hustlers. They multi task like crazy. The amazing thing is their ability to stay intensely committed to their families.”
Yesterday was International Women’s Day (IWD) with the theme; “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”. I felt there is reason for me to stress the importance that the girl child, women and mothers play all over the world; and then commitment to gender equality.
Ban Ki-Moon captures this need this way: “Too many of our women and girls face intimidation and physical and sexual abuse often from those who should care for them and respect them. Fathers, brothers, colleagues and supervisors”
“Raising awareness and changing the environment through education is crucial. Violence is not a normal part of life. Violence against women is an obstacle to global productivity”.
Wikipedia sums it up succintly but with a wider definition and view, it says: “Gender equality implies that women and men should receive equal treatment unless there is a sound biological reason for different treatment. Women and men, girls and boys should enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections.”
Gender equality is not some sort of competition with the male folks even though some people technically think that is all it entails. I am only saying, let me succeed too. Gender equality has got nothing to do with women not being submissive to their husbands; it is not about making the male inferior beings. It is about creating equal opportunities and venues for us all to succeed.
Girls have been raised with the belief that investing in their education will amount to a waste of family resources. This erroneous belief rears its head in various ways; The women are expected to stay home, look after the fields, tend to babies, cook for their families and all that – it’s all about doing for others.
In traditional African societies, women have been sent packing from their homes for the sole reason of not bearing a male child. Young girls have been forced into marriages, turned into mothers (some end up with VVF) and then abandoned. Some of this belief pattern contributes to a raise in domestic violence. Girls that are raised with this impression will not likely speak out when violated by a male – even their husbands. The role that women should play is much more than this.
Equal access to education is a must; this will enable them to build the knowledge that is required in combating diseases, stopping maternal deaths, and eradicating hunger and poverty. An educated woman is of high benefit to herself, the family, the community and country at large. She is informed and that gives her prerogative to look after herself and make well-meaning decisions for others too. She will be able to seek medical care, be informed about her children’s nutritional requirement, ensuring her children are immunized and cultured with access to basic tools that will benefit them in the larger society.
The World Bank estimates that an additional year of schooling for 1000 women helps prevent two maternal deaths; also each additional year of formal education that a mother completes translates to her children staying in school an additional one-third to one half year. It shows that things we take for granted are particularly those things that are extremely important in growing the society.
I belong to the school of thought that says “I can be all I want”. I can achieve anything as long as I keep at it with dedication and focus. My sex is not a disability and should never be for anyone. It shouldn’t deter me from anything or any goal. I can be successful and still be submissive. I was raised in a home where there is zero tolerance for excuses. Both male and female are unique. The success of my brother is in no way an intimidation to my father and vice versa. There is mutual respect and understanding
Women suffer a lot in our society and a strong will from the government to address some basic gender issues will be a major breakthrough. The bill on violence against persons should be passed. Access to health care; renewed dedication to maternal health and under five deaths should be a priority. Women in rural areas go through a lot; Primary health care centers are more like toilets in some these places and where it is habitable, absence of basic drugs becomes an issue.
Most deaths are not recorded in our part of the world. We don’t value data and this is obvious in all areas of public life. Some of these women would probably not visit these health centers as there is no proper sensitization and management in those centres. This shows that there is need to train traditional birth attendants in these places. The women in rural areas, as a matter of grave importance, should be empowered. They are doing amazing things to raise their families. They need all the help they can get and the presence of government in their vicinity.
A happy world is a place where everyone can be all they want irrespective of their gender. Gender equality is not about the female folks, it is about everyone on earth achieving their goals without being prejudiced on gender grounds. I leave you with the words of Geraldine Ferraro who said: “some leaders are born women”