A young female graduate from one of Cameroons most prestigious university, the university of Buea was looking for some work experience after school,she studied banking and finance and wanted to start an internship in any institution which could give her a platform,so she cane to an institution where I was also doing and internship,she met me at the entrance,greeted me politely and asked if there were any internship or volunteer positions.I told her I wasnt sure but that I would be glad to receive her application and hand it over to my boss,I asked her what she had studied and she said banking and finance.At the time the institution for which I was interning was in dire need of extra hands in the administrative service to manage the accounts of the so many projects that were ongoing at the time,but it wasnt my place to tell her that,so I simply smiled at her and told her if there was any need to have an intern she will be called up by the boss but for now he wasnt on seat. She had a couple of other folders in her hands ,folders which I suppose also carried applications for internship which she was hoping to drop in other institutions. Later that day, when my boss came in I took the folder which contained the ladys' application and supporting documents and handed to him with so much excitement and explained that she was a polite young woman and her 3.3 grade point average from the university was proof that she was definitely up to the task,but I was shocked at his reaction when he heard me say she.She? He asked,yes she I responded.Now my boss simply handed the folder to me without even opening it,he told me to add it to the pile of application for jobs and internships files that we received almost daily.he did this while grumbling,in pidgin English * man di find person for came di manage big money them na woman di came? We need na man pikin weh ei fit di bulldoze up and down for bank them small time I hear sir I will not be able to come am menstruating tommorow pikin di cry next day I dey with belle again,no me oh* which literally translates to (no we dont need a woman because she wont be up to the task,she will take of days when she is on her period or show up pregnant or sometimes have to rush home because her baby is crying we need a man,men are bulldozers).now this reaction from my boss brought tears to my eyes.what!!!! Is that how such a qualified human being can be disqualified and reduced to not worth an opportunity simply because of reproductive roles? Wow! Perhaps I was given that opportunity simply because it was an academic internship and I needed it for graduation but what will happen then when I graduate?I guess I will move from one office to another seeking employment but I will be rejected on the basis of being female and having reproductive roles,something which is totally not my fault.
Wow! Perhaps I was given the chance to do that internship simply because it was an academic internship and a requirement for me to graduate and when I do I will just continue dropping applications just like her ,I wondered how many offices she would go to with those applications and be rejected without even being considered. This is structural violence.The kind of violence that people contribute to without even knowing that they are contributing to,the kind of violence contributing to snail economies and the progress of some countries in the world. The kind of violence that celebrates a 30% representation of women in the parliament instead of questioning it.why are women only represented by 30% when there is 100% representation possibility for all humans. The kind of violence that accepts that for as long as a country like Cameroon has existed there is no female Governor,and when 2 Senior divisional officers are appointed people are celebrating instead of asking why only 2? This is the kind of violence that exist right up to the level of local councils where the people themselves vote their representatives but just decide that women should not be part of decision making processes because that is not quite *their role*. Now each time you celebrate the appointment of 2 female ministers to replace 2 who were removed from office you are part of the problem,each time you make news out of an appointment of a female SDO instead of questioning a system that only appoints female SDOs after so many years of independence you are part of the problem,each time you decide not to vote for women leaders who have incredible potential to lead change processes because you think well we are not ready for a female leader yet you are part of the problem,and you know what makes you even more part of the problem ? It isn’t what you are doing,it is what you are not doing.You are not speaking out,you are not questioning all of these you are not talking to your friends and neighbors and bosses about all these because you dont want to be called a *feminist* Which according to you is simply *odd*. Make an effort,ask your boss why there are only 2 women decision in the office of 20 women and 7 men but 6 Male decision makers out of 7 in the same office. Ask the leader of your political party why they have left women on the bench of hand clapping instead of involving them on key political issues that they should infact be spear heading. Why aren’t they talking about the economy? The weather? The environment? But when it’s time to serve food they are on the frontline? It’s the small questions that bring about change. I recently had encounter with one of my bosses,we had a small party at work and at the end of the party he stood up to leave the table and he made a statement * ladies please do well to keep the place clean* and I retorted immediately as if I was expecting it,* No not ladies ,everyone please ,we all are and drank so we should all keep the place clean* I left him speechless and a I could see the shame on his face ,he couldn’t argue so he just said *yes I know you madame feminist okay everyone keep the place clean*. That was a win,and the next time he wont do that or at least he will look around to see if am there before saying a thing like that. When he responded the second time his time his tone was down,it wasn’t as bold as when he first said * ladies keep the place clean*.
These are the structural stereotypes that we need to break and we all are responsible for that. Just imagine if we all questioned this form of violence in our homes,schools churches ,families and offices? Planet 50/50 will sure come sooner than we expect. Now go out there and get work done.thats is a challenge.send us our experiences on any forms of structural violence and how you are taking action to put an end to it email@example.com