the ever elusive gender equality

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 4

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Sep 15
Sep 15

I’m so glad your University professsor had logic in place. Totally agree on the cuss word.

Shirin Dalaki
Sep 15
Sep 15

Hello Abigayle,

Thank you for writing this awareness piece. It always excites me to read stories that shows a woman's strenght and encouraging others to accept being a woman. Women have so much power if they pause and pay attention and see their value and not believe what they have been told as a child.

I hope that it will take less than a century for change in mindset to take place for gender equality. Congratulation on having a baby girl and I can see that your daughter's childhood will be totally magnificent with a mother like you and how you value your womanhood. I just want to say that I am so proud of you and how far you have come in your journey. Keep up the good work.


Nini Mappo
Sep 16
Sep 16

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.

Hello, Abigayle,

I enjoy reading your story. I could relate with most of it, especially this, "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."

I am glad that a woman, your University Professor, shed light to the value of a woman. It takes a woman to empower another woman. Together, let us empower young girls to value themselves and find their power as women. Thank you for sharing this story with us.