the ever elusive gender equality

AbigayleMutua
Posted September 15, 2020 from Kenya

When I was a little girl growing up in the suburbs, I used to find life so good. We would freely play with our friends without fear and discrimination. What our innocent minds knew was that; it was so nice to be alive.

This happiness was however soon replaced with apprehension and uncertainty when we hit our puberties, because now our innocent minds began to be bombarded with some truths that there was a clear cut difference between the boy and the girl. I remember it clearly, when puberty set in that now my mother would not allow me to play among boys! I didn’t know why, but I had to obey my parents so I did. Then soon after, at the age of 11 when I had my first menstruation then I was not even allowed close to boys; my mother told me ` you cannot play with boys now, because they will get you pregnant!’. And just like that, playing became a thing of the past! I used to love climbing trees, but even that I was told is not a girly thing to do. Mama told me that now it was time to teach me how to be a mother and a wife to some man someday! Just like that, I slowly lost my carefree childhood.

What followed years after that talk with my mom was that I realized being born a woman was a ‘curse’. Suddenly I could not walk around alone from school because a man somewhere would try to grope my behind, or my budding breasts. As if that was not enough, I had to suffer bleeding every month. I soon discovered that having male friends was spoiling my reputation and my family name. The more boys I was seen talking with, the more fake rumors spread about me. At some point, I became (Manzi machali) which means a woman Player or in short A young slut. I really hated being a woman. How I wished I was born a man instead, because in my eyes, men had it easier than the female.

Flash forward into my early adulthood, and the feeling somewhat changed, I loved and embraced womanhood thanks to one of our university professor who taught us just how powerful a woman is. She really drove the point home that being a woman doesn’t make me any less than a man. And I embraced this fact, living it to the point where I ventured into an industry that is deemed to be fit only for men. It has not been an easy task though, because over the years since I finished university, the sad reality is that; we have not yet attained any gender equality. And we may not be able to achieve this gender equality even in the next 100 years.

My interactions in both the family setting and the job sector have been mortifying at best. This is because I have realized as much as we women are out campaigning for gender equality and trying hard to empower women; the very women we are working for are standing up against themselves. For equality to be felt all across the globe, women from all spheres of life, regardless of race, tribe or religious affiliations MUST LEARN TO ACCEPT THAT BEING WOMAN IS POWERFUL. We must LEARN to value ourselves and value our gender, empowers our children both male and female to respect women. I remember recently I was so sick, admitted in the hospital and since I have a month old baby, I ended up in the pediatric ward. It was in this ward where I made friends with several mothers who were tending to their ailing children. One interaction with a certain female patient really made me see just how far we were from achieving gender equality. The lady was narrating to me how one of her friend had suffered a terrible accident in the bathroom that made her have a miscarriage. What struck a chord in my heart was when the lady said “It is so sad that she lost her baby! And to make matters worse it was a boy!” I paused at this and asked the lady would it have been better if she had lost a girl instead? She gave me a thoughtful glance and said “Boys are better than girls!!” I WAS HORRIFIED, because I realized these words were coming from the mouth of a woman! She didn’t value the life of a baby girl, as much as she valued that of a baby boy! Gender inequality begins from conception! I further took time to ask women around the ward what were their preference; a baby boy or a baby girl. ¾ of the women and men answered they preferred to have boys over girls. I asked them why, and they would say well a girl will bring shame to the family because they easily get pregnant! That answer really made my heart bleed for my daughters! What a world my daughters would face, being told that they are less because they came out female! Yet these very women, who are saying this, do not even realize that if they were not born female, there would be no one to carry forth the seed of the man and produce the next generation!

I feel terrible when I see women allowing themselves to be addressed in derogatory terms; “bitch”, “whore” “slut” .I feel terrible when I see women portraying themselves as sex symbols in music videos, social media and magazines. I wish women around the world would stop allowing men to treat them like trash, that they would each their sons to treat a woman with respect and teach their daughters to demand respect! I often wonder why a woman’s genitalia would be used a cuss word to depict weakness, yet it is one of the most powerful muscles, expanding to produce a whole human being and going back to normal!

Women are more powerful than we think; And if we are to embrace gender equality the way we think about women/and the girl child must change in general. Other than that, it will take more than a century before we achieve equality.

 

 

Comments 10

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Beth Lacey
Sep 16
Sep 16

Women are so powerful, but the ingrained culture makes it hard for us to recognize it and wear it proudly

AbigayleMutua
Oct 08
Oct 08

Indeed we are so powerful. We just need to realize this truth and live it

valem
Sep 17
Sep 17

dear sister Abigaylemutua how are you and your family?
Yes we are powerful but traditions, customs and culture make a woman what she looks like so let's shout to get rid of this situation together we will be able to. keep posting and tell us how things are there.

AbigayleMutua
Oct 08
Oct 08

Hello Valem. I am well and so is my family. Thank you for asking. Hope you and your family are well too.

Indeed let's stand up together to break down these cultural mentalities that weigh us down. Much love

Carine Fola fomduwir

Thanks so much for sharing.it reminds me of my childhood especially when I started mentrating I was told the same. We women a gradually changing our mindset for the better.

AbigayleMutua
Oct 08
Oct 08

We must find a place of re educating our girls. Put power in them from birth

Nini Mappo
Sep 17
Sep 17

Dear Abigail,
I am glad that in spite of the struggles of growing up a girl, you have been able to redeem, and celebrate your femininity. Your daughters can now live in the freedom that you have carved, and celebrate their femininity too, living life without apology.
For many women preferring boys over girls it's because of the culture too. They have been told that they are better value to their husband/family if they bear sons. I sympathise with them, because it is such a prison of self for a woman to believe that a boy child gives value to her womanhood. Opportunities for women's empowerment would redeem the definition/value of womanhood from being attached to motherhood alone. Because a woman devalues herself when she has been told she has less value, and should make up for that by bearing sons.

It is such a sad, layered issue supported by ignorance. But we can begin by educating one woman to embrace her femininity as a needed and valued asset to the society. And you are doing that already. Good on you, and thank you for advocating for changed mindset in this piece. If only every woman would recognise their worth and value.

AbigayleMutua
Oct 08
Oct 08

Yes nini. Some mindsets must be broken down for the woman to thrive. No child is better than the other. We are born as we are, either female or male because that is the design fit for us to accomplish our purpose in this life. Anyone who realizes this truth will value life, whether if a girl or a boy.

Let's continue to raise our voices for the sake of the future generations to come. May women thrive.

Chi8629
Sep 19
Sep 19

Thank you for sharing.

Tamarack Verrall
Sep 20
Sep 20

Dear Abigail,
What a heart breaking story of these instructions and lessons you were given that limit girls' dreams and action, and of the discussion with women about the unequal value of girls and boys. Women are taught in so many ways that men are superior. To say differently takes courage as there can be punishment. But by having these conversations you have planted some strong seeds. So true, women must find the courage to teach children differently. It is also long overdue that men take more responsibility to teach equality to the next generation.If that were to happen more, we would not be looking at 200 years. Keep raising your strong, loving voice. This is what we need!