Gender equality is not optional but a right

It is an irony that a continent worst affected by and well aware of the impact of oppression of humans by other humans continues to drag its feet when it comes to the freedoms of a huge section of its population. In virtually all of Africa, except for Rwanda, we still witness men’s active and robust resistance to women’s emancipation. It is incomprehensible that chromosome arrangement alone would determine human worth in the 21st century; it is morally wrong that in any society today sex would be a factor in determining the right to top political positions.

An African world run by men sees women in black and white; it recognises only two classes of women: they are either ladies or not. There is nothing in between; while boys enjoy the benefit of doubt, girls are expected to get it right to be ladies or miss and miss out on being ladies! The unjust absence of an accommodating social space that allows girls to experiment curtails women’s creativity as the fear of the stigma of falling into the not lady-like category is simply devastating for most women.

A male dominated Africa remains incapable of addressing inherent gender inequalities. It is insane that African society still does not trust women enough to hire them for top jobs, pay top wages for top jobs they do or even pay them respect. The contradiction in the male dominated world lies in that men seem to think working as barristers in air-conditioned offices is too demanding for women yet the same men have no qualms with women toiling in 35 degrees Celsius heat in the fields.

There is no evidence that even remotely suggests given similar opportunities men are better, wiser, more intelligent, more creative, let alone more responsible than women. If African men have the confidence that they are objectively better than women, they should be happily pulling down all barriers to power set in place by their male ancestors some centuries ago. Women’s success must no longer be limited to a circus and the often degrading support roles in male dominated dramas and movies.

It is morally repugnant that in today’s Africa people would be allowed to claim superiority based on nothing other than their gender. Witnessing men’s resistance to women emancipation is both embarrassing and disturbing to say the least. Africa needs to create a socioeconomic and political space that promotes equality of all human beings. Women make around 50 percent of the population yet constitute only about 20.2 percent of most governments in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011.

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