If you want to know how a country’s politics is,just look at the way it treats its women.If the women are marginalized, have to fight for their rights are generally the weaker sex in every sense,are under represented in the higher echelons of power,have a lower literacy level and are generally reports of abuse are high then you know democracy in that country still has a long way to go.
Since the beginning of this year there have been a lot of women in the news and sometimes for all the wrong reasons.We have heard cases of domestic violence that ended tragically and we have seen stories of women who have committed suicide and have taken their children along with them.It is also in Kenya where prostitution is a crime that victimizes the women and lets the men get away scot free.
In the English language countries acquire a female gender specification when it comes to speech and they acquire a female pronoun..I have always asked myself why and now i think i have an answer.It is because a country just like a mothers womb is where we are borne.A country like a mother shelters her children and a country does so under a flag.Just like a mother nourishes a child at her breast, a country feeds it populace through the fertile earth it has been blessed with.It is from this earth too that we get the natural resources that spur economies the same way a mother through the labor of her hands is able to provide for her family.
A mothers heart is a home to her children, people who have left their countries of birth feel that their hearts never leave their mother countries and it is always a joy to be back.We all can identify with the nostalgia that comes with leaving home and setting out in the big wide world on our own.In the same way people pine for their home countries when they have to immigrate,we pine for ourmothers coooking when we are far away from her.
If we look at the lives of Kenyan women today ,leave alone those in the urban centers we will find a very disconcerting similarity between the battles they are facing and those facing our country.Just like the thousands of women who face all manner of physical and emotional abuse our country has been abused by people in power and by the citizens themselves.We blatantly chop down trees,trash our rivers and plunder our treasury for our own selfish benefit.We forget that the same hand that is feeding us is the same hand we are cutting off.A country just like a woman can only stand so much abuse and sooner rather than later the woman leaves or commits suicide when it is too much to bear.
A woman who has been abandoned by her husband faces an uphill task taking care of her children and society never looks kindly upon one who has been so abandoned.It does not matter that the husband maybe the one on the wrong but she faces a lonely journey ahead.The same case with our country,our leaders be they political,business or clergy have abandoned this country and have left the task of caring for it to…no one.No one ever talks about what they can do for the country,how her children can benefit from its vast resources,how we can be able to protect the resources we have for our future and that of future generations who will call Kenya home.The country is struggling under huge public debt and no one cares,all that matters is our selfish endeavours to make the most of what we have now.Look at the way we have encroached on forest land,game reserves,national parks and rivers.The very same things that allow us to feed the 40 million Kenyans are abused with no regard or thoughts given to sutainability or conservation.
I can say for a fact that women in Kenya work the hardest,they are the ones you will find early in the morning trekking from the informal settlements to look for work in the sub urban areas just so they can feed their children.They make up the largest number of domestic workers and women make up a huge percentage of some of the most lowly paid workers.Who are the people who despite the back breaking work of feeding us and tutoring the next generation of Kenyans have the least pay?They have to be teachers and farmers.Farmers in Kenya are a forgotten lot.Year in year out,season in season out they faithfully plant the maize,wheat vegetables,rear cows,goats and chicken that will fill the bellies of their fellow Kenyans but they hardly ever have anything to show for this.Teachers especially in public schools prepare lesson plans that will see them impart knowledge on eager Kenyan school children, but for the longest time they have had protracted battles over pay with the government.These two professions i have mentioned have the largest number of women compared to any other career.Does that tell us something?
We need to ensure that every Kenyan woman enjoys the same rights as a man,where she does not have to struggle to put food on the table because her husband has abandoned her,where she is assured of equal pay for the same work she does as a man,where she does not have to beg for her rights or have them enshrined in the constitution .Only when we are able to have the Kenyan woman treated as an equal to her male counterpart will we be able to ensure our democratic space is as democratic as democracy allows.