Gender Inequality: What If It Is The Other Way Round?
Most of the time, gender-related issues affect women more than they benefit them; the men have the upper hand in all the situations because of the patriarchy system in which we find ourselves as Africans.
Patriarchy system is the setting in which the man assumes or is given the power to have and exercise authority over his family – wife and children. The man is therefore given some kind of power and control which more often than not go a long way to affect the woman and children when not used positively.
Women have been used by the society in several stereotypical ways. For example, it is the assumption of the society that ‘women are lovers of money’, ‘women love luxuries’, ‘women are symbol of sex’, ‘women have influence over their husband’, etc.
These stereotypes are manifested in music, music videos, movies, advertisement (in which photographs of women are mostly used to sell the products); sometimes as part of the advertisement plan, the women are seen wearing short and revealing clothes, all in the name of being ‘attractive’ to fetch more customers.
But, upon all these services that women offer the society, their husbands and their homes, it has come to the realization of many concerned women, both old and young, that women have been treated unfairly in the past and present, as a result of gender inequality.
This is based on three main issues which seem to be very severe in terms of gender inequality. They are: Widowhood rite; women labelled as husband killers when their husbands die; and the issue of property acquisition.
There have been many instances in our daily lives when women have been accused of being the ones behind the deaths of their husband. As a result, the woman is ridiculed by some members of the society, especially by the late husband’s family.
Some of the women are even taken to shrines to swear oaths to either confess or deny the society’s assumption that they killed their husbands.
On the contrary, as most people can testify, the male counterparts, when their wives die, are rather given special attention and treatment. For example, the dead woman’s sister is made to cook for him. He is paid frequent visits just to ensure that he is comfortable. The widower is not bullied as it is done to the woman.
The question is, why should it be so? Why should women be subjected to torture in such a circumstance whilst the men are accorded sympathy and care? This is not fair to women. It is simply a matter of gender-inequality.
The second issue has to do with widowhood rite. In this practice, the widow is made to go through some traditional formalities.
This practice is a severe one to the woman, and differs from tribe to tribe which sometimes involves some rituals performed at various locations at night such as the sea side.
She is restricted from taking part in some social functions until the burial of the dead husband; after which tradition demands that for a period of one year she wears only black attire, minus jewelleries and other decorations.
The widow is also restrained from re-marrying during that time and she is carefully watched by some women groups in the society to ensure that the woman does not have any love relationship with any man.
This practice gives an indication to anyone who comes into contact with the woman that she is a widow.
But can this be said in the case of the men? Absolutely No! They are given the chance to own their freedom and, in fact, they can re-marry at any time they deem it fit without coming under any bashing from the society. This is unequal, compared with what the women go through.
And now the other issue – improper claiming of property, is another disheartening thing which usually happens to the women.
There is this general notion that whatever property is acquired during the marriage life of the man and his wife is solely the man’s.
Therefore, most often the man’s family go all out to drive the widow and her children out of the house.
But the truth in most of these situations is that the women actually helped their husbands in acquiring the property; but the man bears the sole title because he is seen as the head of the family.
For a long time now, women have suffered these cruelties all because of gender bias, and nothing seems to change in their favour.
It is high time all laws, conventions and rights favouring women, as well as women’s freedom from all kinds of gender-inequality are re-enforced and made to work more effectively to ensure that no woman goes through any form of torture and de-humanization.
Also, women must be empowered to take up leadership positions at both local and national levels to boost their personality in the society. When they are educated and empowered, they can also pick up wonderful job opportunities as the men, so that they can become less-dependent on their husbands.
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