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The Simple Things Matter

The Simple Things Matter

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Gender equality and parity have taken on several forms in society especially since the country in which we live is so inherently patriarchal.  You’ll find that the debates border down to the most basic concepts, which to an outsider, may appear trivial. It is not irregular for debates to stem from statements as simple as a woman admittedly tweeting about her dislike for cooking and for counter-arguments like: ‘that’s why you won’t find a husband’ to occur. It will also come as no surprise that the latter statement might even be more popular with many in agreement as if a wife is all a woman should aspire to become.

I have scolded myself repeatedly about placing the issues of gender parity in priority levels. Afterall, some issues are bigger to whom and in what context? My reality and that of many in the middle and upper middle class is so different to that of women at the grass root level. Our education and exposure affords us the opportunity to do and know better (although, this isn’t a sure-fire model as many of those who have had the same opportunities are still very sexist).

For us, our priorties are different, we want to be taken seriously in the workplace, we want to earn the same as our male counterparts in the same roles; we want to avoid sexual harassment in meetings and with employers. If we truly wanted to define what we want in one word, ‘respect’ would ideally capture it. We know and understand our rights and my generation of women and those coming after us have already begun the revolution. For this, I am proud.

For women at the grass root level however, awareness is the first challenge. Many women in disadvantaged areas have become single moms, not because they’ve lost their partners to death, but because their partners have probably opted out of parenthood.  Unfortunately, ours is not a society that demands for social justice in the form of child support, so these men get to live their best lives and start again as many times as they need to. Many times, repeating the cycle over and over again.

The women on the other hand are left to fend off the stigma, hold prayer meetings in hopes for their partners’ grand return (even though in many cases they were more a financial liability than anything else), emotional abuse from family members and harassment from their communities. In this society, there are only two reasons a woman becomes a single mother: she must have been really bad at her wife duties or been a witch. Witchcraft accusations are more popular than you can imagine – and not the cool Harry Potter kind either. The type you exorcise. So you see, these ‘mundane’ conversations are necessary.

While International Women’s Day this year is driving the narrative for gender parity, let’s remember that equality has many expressions. None of which is more relevant than the other. If we want to truly fight for equality, ALL women must matter.

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