Home / News / News24.com | 24 years of democracy and gender struggles continue

We live in a society where social norms make it okay for women to suffer in silence. A society which tries its best to silence the voices of our mothers, aunts and sisters when they cry out for help and raise their voices in a quest to stop the injustices they face, but tradition and culture dictates their existence and the a criminality of their cases is judged by the elders of the family who decide what must happen and dictate to women what they must do with their bodies. This indirectly controls their though structure through telling them what they ought to do and when they ought to do it which slowly forces them into obidience to the alpha male who has paid lobola for her which transfered ownership from her parents to her husband.

When I was 13 years old, my mother passed away, me and my two younger siblings had to move in with my aunt and uncle because my father had recently lost his wife and there was no female at his house to take care of 3 young kids as social norms dictate so he had to give his kids to his deceased wife‘s sister so that she looks after them. The first 2 months were fun until my uncle‘s abusive nature evidently showed itself.

I grew up in a household where my aunt was beaten by my uncle almost every night as a way of killing the strong spirit she had and for her to succumb to him as the alpha male of the house and self ordained leader of her body and ultimately all decisions she made. I watched helplessly as this macho man beat his wife to obedience until the life and her bubbly spirit was drained out of her and a hallow woman was left, a woman who had deserted all her desires and dreams in support of her husband‘s. I swore then that no woman would have to endure such atrocities under my hand or the hand of those I know around me.

I try by all means to ensure that those who are around me who still subscribe to patriarchal norms change their ways. We need to educate the generation of men rising up on the dangers of patriachy and how it has grown to manifest itself into religion, social spaces, cultural norms and the most valued traditional values.

Patriachy dictates spaces women can occupy in ministry (religion) which goes as far as saying women cannot run churches, mosques and various other predominantly used religious institutions. It reserves important positions in ministry for men and women act as the help to these men and that is the prevalence of patriachy as a system which says men are better than women. Our cultural norms are gender assigned and each gender has to subscribe to norms allocated to their gender role in society, with women under difficult circumstances most of the time.

The assigning of gender roles and using them as the determining factor when it come to norms which trickle down to inheritance which should be determined on the basis of which child can better advance the family‘s interests to benefit generations to follow but what you find is cultural norms which have infused patriachy in them, now dictate who gets what according to the gender bias patriachy subscribes to.

Traditional council positions are filled by old men who have no interest in including women in the discourses which shape and mold their communities. Even jobs in the corporate sector and government are highly patriarchal with particular jobs still occupied mostly by cishet men even when there are capable and more educated and equipped women who deserve those jobs.

Our engagement in social spaces is dominated patriachy and we gage which opinion we should value the most based on the gender role a person fulfills before we consider any other aspect. Females have for generations been isolated from actively competing with males in an already unequal economic state but even in countries which aspire to reach equilibrium like the USA, females are still the disenfranchised minority whose position is deemed as homemakers and never really as equal contributors to the economy or as an equal contributory factor within our communities. These are all results of accepting and embracing a patriarchal system for way too long.

With 24 years of democracy, the gender struggles still exist which prove we ought to do more to create a safe environment for people to self actualize with no fear of harm. Our generation needs to do far better to change our ways to make the nation safer for our sisters so they can find space to self actualise and take decisions and active strides which will shape their futures to follow the path they envision for themselves. We need to have a serious discourse on how to systematically remove the institution of patriachy in all dominant factors of our lives so as we can learn how to love and embrace each other as equals with equal rights and equal capabilities to perform any job you desire to perform or to be anyone or anything you want to be in society.