In his wildest imagination, my father had never considered being a feminist. Feminism to him was a western concept not to be promoted in a patriarchal society. Advocating for women and girls was a deviation from the norm and considered a weakness. He knew he was a true patriarch and will not choose to work with “weaker vessels”.
As a faithful believer in male superiority and ‘male bread winner concept’, my father was committed to empower his male children beyond all odds. He proudly celebrated the birth of his three male children, his heirs. At last, he will die smiling because the family was in ‘good hands’. Behold, he was still to unfold his life package.
Unfortunately for my dad, life unfolded contrary to his expectations. His male children did not live his dreams. They neither prioritize education nor commit to family wellbeing. They brought heart breaking challenges that exhausted family income and he barely survived all. Unlike the males, the females lived beyond his expectation. Reality dawned on him leaving him with no choice but to redefine his priority which he did in all humility. At last, the scales fell from his eyes.
Many patriarchal families in my community have lived in false believe in the male as the King, disregarding the contribution of female children until they meet their doom. Unfortunately, lessons are never learned since according to them, ‘the man is and will always be a first thought’ no matter what. Stories were told of male children who wasted family income and even sold family property including the family house when their parents were still alive leaving them to die in misery. Fortunately for us, my father rose from slumber early enough to rescue our situation. It seemed a desperate decision but he celebrates his female children, and commits to deconstruct stereotypes retarding their empowerment.
In line with the adage that ‘Charity begins at home’, my father explored all opportunities to foster the empowerment of his female children. He sent us to good schools, provided our needs and sacrificed all he had for us. Then he proceeded to advocate for the equality between women, men, boys and girls. He was radical and unstoppable in his fight. In bear parlors, funerals, celebrations my father raise awareness on the need to empower women and girls. He said NO to early/forced marriages, NO to sexual abuse, NO to preference for male children, NO to all forms of discrimination against women. Defying all odds, he willed his property to all children irrespective of sex. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter whether it was a boy, what mattered was who can do what’.
I and my sisters had stood the test of time and had emerged victorious. We excelled in education and in male dominated spheres. We are seen as a pacesetting family known not just for our excellent performance in education and work, but also for our relentless effort to empower our fellow sisters. With our diverse abilities, we orientate women and girls on career opportunities, train them on livelihood opportunities, provide psychosocial support and refer others to organizations for sustainable empowerment.
Our success is our team leader ‘our father’ who uses his influential position in the community to influence local development actors, family heads and individuals to give equal opportunities to all without bias. His testimonies have empowered many.
He has never regretted being a feminist and is unstoppable in his fight for equality and emancipation of women and girls.