“…… all countries (especially developing ones) are better served when women are encouraged to play a full and mature role in the running of their communities.”
These are not my own words but those of a former head of the Canadian International Development Agency Margaret Catley – Carlson.They are from the book In My Own Name ,a memoir by another Canadian, Maureen McTeer.
Women in Africa,and the world over have faced the same prejudices and challenges for years and until each and every woman is free from the prejudices society places on her,then no woman can claim to be truly free,no matter what corner of the globe she lives in.
When African women lack access to equal opportunities in education,employment and the political sectors,none of us can claim to be free.
When women are dying as they bring forth life into the world, because their countries lack hospitals that should have basic life saving facilities or trained medical personnel,then none of us is free.
When women are denied jobs or face discriminative policies at work because their employers are afraid they will get pregnant in the future and disrupt corporate/business functions then no woman is free.
When women are denied the chance and opportunity to make informed choices in regards to their reproductive rights then no woman is free
When an electorate looks down on a female candidate not because her experience is lacking or her educational capabilities are lacking but just because of her gender,then no woman is free.
When women have to turn to prostitution,degrading working conditions in foreign countries because their lack of education leaves them little choice,then no woman is free
And until we are all free,none of us can lay claim that we live in a free and democratic society.
Most African governments are just beginning to acknowledge the role of women in development.
When men are running for elective posts they see these posts as challenges and ask them selves one questin ,”why not ?” and then run.
For women it is a whole set of different rules ,as Maureen says in her book, women will first list all the reasons and setbacks (real and imagined) of why they should not run then either give up or if they do decide to run have to work ten times a s hard as men to prove themselves.
It is time African society sets women free from the chains it has bound them in.
Let us allow women the chance to embrace the opportunities their lives gift them to lead their communities and countries.
Let us not to be afraid to let them stand tall and be counted when the opportunity arises to make better the institutions and bodies that serve their fellow citizens..
Let us change the way politics is played,let’s make politics relevant again to the millions of people who call Africa home and especially for its women .