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Opportunities presented by evolving gender dynamics need more reflection

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By Justice Matsilele

Response to gender based oppression has created opportunities that can be employed in reshaping gendered stereotypes and socially organized oppression. The 21st century has seen the rights of women and other disadvantaged minorities taking centre stage and women have started to be accorded rights to education, health and political space among others. It is in this context that this article seeks to explore opportunities previously subdued by patriarchal oppression as means to transcend into the next era of a socially equal world.

Nicholas, D. Kristof, in his Book ‘Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’ recaps the adverse transition and eminence, which transpired in the past generations, however perpetuating women oppression. That is Slavery in the 19th Century – Autocracy in the 20th Century and Women Abuse in the 21st Century. Each time period played a part in aggravating the oppression of women although very little opportunities could have been presented.

Women in the 19th Century had no access to available opportunities except on the grounds of the so- called ‘marital privileges’ granted by their men/ husbands. This was social slavery instituted to undermine women’s freedom of access, choice and ownership to mention but a few. The 20th Century partially reversed some socially institutionalized systems enslaving women and thus improving their access to opportunities. For instance in South Africa, The Bill of Rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, color, sexual orientation et cetera was introduced to eliminate oppression of any sort. Adopting this bill however, incited some passive resistance on the ground from men that are pro- women abuse, who saw this as an avenue to divorce their wives. As a result, some women are now divorcees bearing the scars of exercising their right to equality, yet unlike the 19th century, 20th and 21st century women have some opportunities for instance equal gender representation in politics, a previously known male chauvinistic arena. Examples of the Joyce Banda assuming the office of the Presidency in Malawi; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia; Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma, assuming the Office of Chairperson for the SADC Region and Christine Lagarde assuming the Managing Director position for the International Monetary Fund are few examples, which can be mentioned; however the list cannot be exhausted.

Women in the 21st Century have rights, which were non-existent in the 19th Century such as the right to education, the right to choose whether to marry or not as well as choose whom to marry et cetera. Nevertheless, we cannot dismiss the fact that 19th Century Slavery has transcended to Women Abuse in the 21st Century. Women abuse is a form of slavery, which must be resisted in every sphere of our societies. A society that is free of women abuse is not something that happens automatically or through wishful thinking, we have to fight for it, guard it and protect.

Despite some 21st Century introductory breakthroughs for women, there is need to mention the dominance of a patriarchal society with its systems perpetuating women abuse. Needless to say, the Swazi Kingdom under King Mswati remains one of the most- unfriendly expression of patriarchy, with the king expected to marry his 16th bride in 2014. With no doubt, the patriarchal system is a worldwide phenomena and the United States of America is no exception. A quick glance at the United States politics might pose certain assumptions that Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential elections was not a popular candidate, hence resulting in her losing the elections. Misrepresentations in American politics for instance Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton being asked about performing household chores during campaign trail are other references of gender imbalances. Additionally, in the United States, The Equal Pay Act was adopted in 1963 to address the inequality in the payment of wages and benefits between men and women with similar set of skills and performing the same task. Nevertheless, the battle of the gender wage gap is still rampant with recent efforts to fight this inequality raised during the Obama government in 2009.

I believe that great emancipation from women abuse should begin at the dinner table, not in the court- room or legislature room. Fathers and men have the mandate to empower their young boys and men to cherish young girls, women, mothers and grandmothers for their difference, rather than suppressing women because they are different.

Primary socialization plays a very crucial role in perpetuating women abuse as well as in creating a world free of women abuse. I recall, as a young boy growing up in a rural area in Zimbabwe, my grandmother re-telling her ordeal when she was beaten up by her husband (my grandfather) and had her breast burnt by a fire -wood. She then ran away and reported the incident to her father who conclusively declared that she was in the wrong and therefore needed to go back to her husband and beg for pardon. She was given a chicken by her father to take it back to her husband as a way of showing remorse and that she had embarrassed her husband by running away after having a family squabble.

More than a thousand incidences of like nature go unreported, more so regarded normal. As a result, reporting cases of this nature creates countless opportunities for women to be heard as well as create a better world for all, regardless of assumed and unappreciated differences.

Irrespective of the past eras of oppression against women, the next era of tranquility can be made possible by means of imagining a better world, succeeded by relentless efforts from everyone. Replaying past ordeals about women abuse may and may not be helpful in tranquility writing for the next era. Hence, we should all be sensitive and tactful so as to avoid creating more damage in the name of eradicating women abuse.

Justice Matsilele is community development practitioner, psychoanalyst and a graduate on policy and development. He writes in his personal capacity.

By Justice Matsilele

Response to gender based oppression has created opportunities that can be employed in reshaping gendered stereotypes and socially organized oppression. The 21st century has seen the rights of women and other disadvantaged minorities taking centre stage and women have started to be accorded rights to education, health and political space among others. It is in this context that this article seeks to explore opportunities previously subdued by patriarchal oppression as means to transcend into the next era of a socially equal world.

Nicholas, D. Kristof, in his Book ‘Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’ recaps the adverse transition and eminence, which transpired in the past generations, however perpetuating women oppression. That is Slavery in the 19th Century – Autocracy in the 20th Century and Women Abuse in the 21st Century. Each time period played a part in aggravating the oppression of women although very little opportunities could have been presented.

Women in the 19th Century had no access to available opportunities except on the grounds of the so- called ‘marital privileges’ granted by their men/ husbands. This was social slavery instituted to undermine women’s freedom of access, choice and ownership to mention but a few. The 20th Century partially reversed some socially institutionalized systems enslaving women and thus improving their access to opportunities. For instance in South Africa, The Bill of Rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, color, sexual orientation et cetera was introduced to eliminate oppression of any sort. Adopting this bill however, incited some passive resistance on the ground from men that are pro- women abuse, who saw this as an avenue to divorce their wives. As a result, some women are now divorcees bearing the scars of exercising their right to equality, yet unlike the 19th century, 20th and 21st century women have some opportunities for instance equal gender representation in politics, a previously known male chauvinistic arena. Examples of the Joyce Banda assuming the office of the Presidency in Malawi; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia; Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma, assuming the Office of Chairperson for the SADC Region and Christine Lagarde assuming the Managing Director position for the International Monetary Fund are few examples, which can be mentioned; however the list cannot be exhausted.

Women in the 21st Century have rights, which were non-existent in the 19th Century such as the right to education, the right to choose whether to marry or not as well as choose whom to marry et cetera. Nevertheless, we cannot dismiss the fact that 19th Century Slavery has transcended to Women Abuse in the 21st Century. Women abuse is a form of slavery, which must be resisted in every sphere of our societies. A society that is free of women abuse is not something that happens automatically or through wishful thinking, we have to fight for it, guard it and protect.

Despite some 21st Century introductory breakthroughs for women, there is need to mention the dominance of a patriarchal society with its systems perpetuating women abuse. Needless to say, the Swazi Kingdom under King Mswati remains one of the most- unfriendly expression of patriarchy, with the king expected to marry his 16th bride in 2014. With no doubt, the patriarchal system is a worldwide phenomena and the United States of America is no exception. A quick glance at the United States politics might pose certain assumptions that Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential elections was not a popular candidate, hence resulting in her losing the elections. Misrepresentations in American politics for instance Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton being asked about performing household chores during campaign trail are other references of gender imbalances. Additionally, in the United States, The Equal Pay Act was adopted in 1963 to address the inequality in the payment of wages and benefits between men and women with similar set of skills and performing the same task.Nevertheless, the battle of the gender wage gap is still rampant with recent efforts to fight this inequality raised during the Obama government in 2009.

I believe that great emancipation from women abuse should begin at the dinner table, not in the court- room or legislature room. Fathers and men have the mandate to empower their young boys and men to cherish young girls, women, mothers and grandmothers for their difference, rather than suppressing women because they are different.

Primary socialization plays a very crucial role in perpetuating women abuse as well as in creating a world free of women abuse. I recall, as a young boy growing up in a rural area in Zimbabwe, my grandmother re-telling her ordeal when she was beaten up by her husband (my grandfather) and had her breast burnt by a fire -wood. She then ran away and reported the incident to her father who conclusively declared that she was in the wrong and therefore needed to go back to her husband and beg for pardon. She was given a chicken by her father to take it back to her husband as a way of showing remorse and that she had embarrassed her husband by running away after having a family squabble.

More than a thousand incidences of like nature go unreported, more so regarded normal. As a result, reporting cases of this nature creates countless opportunities for women to be heard as well as create a better world for all, regardless of assumed and unappreciated differences.

Irrespective of the past eras of oppression against women, the next era of tranquility can be made possible by means of imagining a better world, succeeded by relentless efforts from everyone. Replaying past ordeals about women abuse may and may not be helpful in tranquility writing for the next era. Hence, we should all be sensitive and tactful so as to avoid creating more damage in the name of eradicating women abuse.

*Justice Matsilele is community development practitioner, psychoanalyst and a graduate on policy and development. He writes in his personal capacity. *

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