Equality for women the way to go
I was intrigued by this year’s UN theme for the International Women’s Day, “Equality for Women is Progress for all” after I discovered that it was not only true, but it also reflected on my life so much. The opportunities that were awarded to the women in my life uplifted and touched my life in so many positive ways prompting me to believe that these women chose to be selfless, empathetic and caring of others, even in situations where it was clear doing so did not benefit them directly.
I know some of you had already questioned “the women” in my life but the fact is that there has been and there are still a number of women doing wonders in my life.
My late mother for instance, she was my heroine. With little education and without a formal job she shaped me into the man that I am today and helped me negotiate through the different obstacles life threw at me. Some would argue and say that it was her duty to do all those things for me and many other people that passed through her hands, but I want to firmly state that she went beyond the call of duty. I cannot imagine the extent of my mother’s generosity if she had lived in a world that afforded her the same level of respect and the same opportunities as men. I think her benevolence would have thrived in such an environment.
The essence of this piece is that women should be afforded the same opportunities as men if our country is to fully utilise all the human resources at its disposal. This can only be possible if equality principles are entrenched in every facet of Zimbabwean life. It should not matter if one is a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, our society should operate on merit and mutual respect for one another.
As a man, I am advocating for equality fully cognisant that we live in a patriarchal system where equality between men and women may mean loss of some male privileges, but I believe men should not settle for such petty privileges, but should look at the bigger picture where they stand to benefit from women’s full input and participation in the country’s social and economic spheres.
From where I stand, families and the country at large would benefit more from a system of equality where women are allowed to reach their full potential. I say so because unlike some men, most women I know use their resources less on themselves and more on their families. This is especially true here in Zimbabwe where one would often here statements like, “mwanasikana anochengeta” meaning the girl child never abandons her people, she always takes care of them.
The economic challenges that the country went through afforded me first-hand experience of some of the benefits of equality. In this case it was the foresight and sacrifice of my in-laws who had made the efforts of providing the resources for their daughter, my wife, to reach her potential education wise. When I lost my job my wife rescued me and my family by taking over all the financial responsibilities that I could no longer take care of. She managed to do all this because she was educated and has a good job.
As I look back at my other options, I can’t help but challenge all men out there to embrace equality because I am a direct beneficiary. If it were not for my educated wife my family would have lost our lodgings and we would have been forced to leave town. This would have entailed removing my child from the school he had been accustomed to so much and settling in a completely different environment, most probably the rural areas while I look for another job.
Men have to embrace equality and accept women as their equals. Of course it may be challenging for men to do because of socialisation but it is something men have to do if our country is to move forward. It is high time that as men we begin to challenge negative socialisation and seriously consider the advantages that are likely to result from accepting women as equal partners as opposed to subordinates.
Indeed equality for women is progress for all as women have just like men have a lot to contribute to the communities that they live in.
By Walter Vengesai
PADARE ENKUNDLENI MEN’S FORUM ON GENDER in collaboration with SPEAK OUT –HANDINYARARE are conducting a Campaign dabbed Real Men Nail It Campaign during 16 days of activism against gender based violence from 25th of November to the 10th of December 2016.
1 November 2016
Women Action Group offices
As part of efforts to support women's health, Padare and its partners are offering free cancer related health services for women at the Women Action Group offices in Harare. Join us there.