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 large section of its population. In virtually all of Africa, except for Rwanda, we still witness men’s active, deliberate and robust resistance to women’s emancipation.

It is incomprehensible that chromosome arrangement alone would determine human worth in the 21st century. As Africans, we have to be clear that it is morally wrong that sex would be a factor in determining the right to top socio-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 unjustified absence of an accommodating social space that extends freedom to include making mistakes and thus allows girls to experiment curtails women’s creativity as the fear of the stigma of falling outside the ‘lady’ category is simply devastating for most women.

A male dominated Africa remains incapable (or least motivated) of effectively 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.

We cannot ignore the apparent contradiction in the male dominated world; men seem to think that 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 predecessors some centuries ago.

Instead of opening access to power by women, many men are actively closing those loopholes that have allowed some women access to positions of authority. Progress will only be achieved when major confident men are comfortable

How we define and categorise success needs to be inclusive. Male judges cannot be expected to effectively understand and judge women’s abilities especially when we seem to question the reliability of women’s judgement of men’s performances. Women’s success must no longer be judged by male dominated commissions that unfairly limit it to 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 constituted only about 20.2 percent of most governments in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011.


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