As we mark Women’s Day what comes to your mind as a human who seeks to empower other women in Africa and beyond? I see us failing in many aspects of this long course to empowerment. Why? Many women in rural areas know nothing about self-worth not to mention self-empowerment that is why. If you are in the southern part of Ghana,(Where I was brought up) I mean in the cities, you will not realize the seriousness of this particular canker that is eating deep into the very fabric of our nation. Because the men there are empowered enough to have regard for their women; except in few instances when they want to show their masculinity. If you really want to see how some women are treated unfairly in this world, you might want to travel to the villages in the north and observe the shape of abuse of women’s rights and its appalling sightly scent.
Their opinions do not count, whatever you are, no matter how competent, your take on issues will only languish in your head and rot there. If you are disrespectful enough to air those views, you may be branded a witch and sent to a witch camp or be beaten to serve as a lesson to all your likes. That aside, where men are gathered, women must flee. They only surface when food and water are needed for entertainment purposes. In recent times. The only woman that may be entertained in a gathering of men is the very old lady who is regarded because of age and wisdom or the very rich woman who can grease their palms. In short, the women are the incubators, servants and possessions. (It sounds like a cliche that I keep mentioning this, I am not so much into we attaining equality than we being given the needed respect as humans) I do not mean to take this to a religious level but many men who cannot even afford to feed their very own selves, tend to marry three or four women, aside the many concubines using religion as the beautiful cover of this very sad and unfair story. By doing so, the women are left to fend for themselves and their children. I wonder though why they covet free spirited women like me who will not take their nonsense. I wonder how they can even degenerate into a servant level just to engage in a conversation with a “southern witch” like me. (I presume the southern witches appeal more than the northern witches)
Women who have never been taught how to do anything apart from helping in the house and on the farm must now till the land and sweat with babies strapped on their backs under the very scorching sun. The very lucky women are those whose people help them learn either hairdressing or the dressmaking. How much will such a person get at the end of the month to help her take care of her irresponsible husband, many children and in some instances, siblings, cousins and nephews?
What puts so much angst in me is they subduing girls, stifling their talents, thrashing their self-worth by telling them they are nothing but possessions of men unknown or in some cases known old men. That trade banter where fathers owe their peers so much and tend to use their unborn children or day old children to pay still persists. How unfair these girls are being treated! No wonder they spare no chance in migrating to the south even if it is to indulge in prostitution or porting. What did these young women do to warrant the wrath of the African land?
Many a times, being a teacher in the best and biggest secondary school in the north, I see many things, hear many things that cause me to weep in my room. The tears that flow mostly are not for me, but for those whose lives I can do nothing about. Those I see in my school I tend to try to empower. And I have realized that telling girls they are pretty, they matter, they can be so much more if they only get some confidence and allowing them to express themselves in ways they want to, go a long way to right their wrong minds. I as a teacher will never stand idle as male students tell my females to sweep because they are girls. Never! If you ask my students, they will tell you that she makes the boys sweep with the girls. That duty roaster must always be mixed. Where the boys are proving stubborn, I make them sweep alone. I nurture the confidence of these young ones in everything I do. I will never let them be given special treatments for being girls, I have realized that that is the very reason they are treated like they have no brains most times. Whereas the boys must respect the girls, the girls too must respect the boys and themselves.
I find it very degrading and offensive when our mothers continue to put bad ideas in the heads of our girls. Sayings like “sԑ ↄbaa tↄ tuo a, ԑtwere bԑԑma bo” transliterating if a woman buys a gun, it is strapped on the chest of a man in the Akan parlance is too outmoded to be used in modern times. While travelling with some of my students last week, our vehicle got stuck in Techiman and we had to get down to allow the fitters work on it. Where we happen to rest, an elderly woman came there praising my girls and giving them what she thought were blessings.
“You have done well; girls who go to school are blessings. God will bless you so that when you grow up you will become wives of presidents, ministers, accantants and all the important men in the world”
The naïve children responded “Amen” Then I said, no madam, these girls you see here will be the accountants, the ministers, and all the important people in the world, and so will the boys. Their lives will not be dependent on men. I refuse that they will tag along men and be nothing but wives. I thought about this and I am still thinking about this, with such mentality, how do we build the confidence of girls to strive for the best?
A girl is a future woman. A girl can be the future woman who can have it all; a good job, and a loving family. A girl is the future woman who must bring up her children and have a say in their affairs. A girl today is the brightest future, the moon of the future (The moon which must brighten the sad angry darkness and pave way for the sun) while the boy is the sun shining in the already bright day. I am doing my bid to help in empowering women I come across, I cut some chains of subduction of girls enhancing them to spread their wings and fly. What are you doing in empowering the gender that is the very foundation of men?
HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY TO ALL WOMEN! YOUR DEDICATION TO BETTER THE LOT OF THE HUMAN RACE IS WIDELY KNOWN AND THE POWER THAT DRIVES YOUR CAUSE WILL REACH ITS PEAK CAUSING YOU TO SHINE IN THE DARKEST PLACES ON EARTH.