Balance

Balance is not a woman issue. It is a human issue. Real progress and development are only possible when all genders have equal rights and opportunities. When we take deliberate steps at eliminating inferiority and superiority complexes as well as mental slavery and seared consciences; when we encourage girls to be who they want to be and boys to accept change, the displaced pendulum will be restored.  Balance is possible.

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When I was in the University, a conversation broke on my class WhatsApp page after someone sent a viral message. The message talked about how men expect women to be in charge of the home while still working a day job. It talked about how men will sit on their couches, surfing through television channels or going out with friends and expecting their wives to perform every single chore at home because it is her duty.

One comment that rankled me to the core was “…this is the reason we don’t want to marry you, educated women. When I am ready to marry, I will go to my village and pick a wife.”

I remember the comment like it was yesterday. This was a student pharmacist – now a registered pharmacist. He thought less of the education of women. In his eyes, women will forever be women – docile, submissive, spineless – irrespective of their education.

No, he is not from Pluto. He’s from the planet earth and he spoke for a lot of men and, not surprisingly, some women.

Society has accepted that the womb of a woman can carry a great man but she can never be great. A good number of people believe that the duty of the woman is to push the man to be great at her disservice. And when, contrary to these primitive thoughts, any woman realizes she deserves better, she receives a backlash. She is accused of being interested in the crown of her king. To the world, she is Lucifer fighting with her god for the throne.

Where did the women our mothers raised go?

If our mothers had no problem with it, why do you have a problem now?

If only you women knew the power you wield, you will not wish to be like men.

You cannot change what has been around for centuries.

These questions and statements represent the response of many to the woman who strives to rise above the standard society has set for her. Here’s what the empowered woman says to the above statements.

The daughters our mothers raised have seen the need for change and have morphed into beautiful butterflies. These daughters now know their worth. They know their strengths and capabilities. These daughters are not intimidated by the daunting journey; they are inspired by the future. A future of sharing their success stories and not looking on while their counterparts conquer territories. Slowly, the stereotypes are being challenged. Slowly, the reality is dawning and there is a continuing need for progressive mindsets. Lots of women are demanding for inclusivity and striving for equality. Some men are in on this. I am overwhelmed when I see men openly call out some injustices done women. Men who accept there is a problem and take it a notch higher to address the issue amidst taunts and jeers from various angles.

This fight for equality is not against men. It is not against their being nor their freedom. The fight which includes men as much as it includes women is about fighting the inequalities of the society. It is about giving the woman equal opportunity to achieve the most she can; about challenging misconceptions relating to masculinity. Women do not want to be men. There is a goal we strive for; that goal is not be called men or gain masculine features. The goal is to be treated equally. The goal is to be accorded the dignity men are accorded. Our goal is to be up there making headway and inspiring little girls. We aim to make the world kinder and more accommodating to that young girl who needs that conducive environment and conditions to soar, unhinged.

This development comes with stripping away privileges of both genders and I am not ashamed to say, most of these privileges are tipped in favour of men. Hence, men mostly are agitated about balancing the equation. Like our human body strives for homeostasis to maintain the health of an individual, we ought to strive for a holistic balance – social, political, economic and leadership.

Alongside, the fight for women’s rights is the need for men to stand with women to create change – equilibrium. Men need to accept that in several ways, they have participated in the oppression of women whether deliberately or unintentionally. They need to acknowledge that men have always had the male benefit and they need to commit themselves to right that wrong one day at a time. It is not about celebrating the women in their lives on special days such as this. It is not about glorifying their suffering and wondering why the current generation of ladies have refused to follow tradition. It is about advocating for justice for women although this change will affect their privilege.

Antagonism towards women rights activism would change if men are taught to learn, unlearn and relearn toxic narratives they have come to believe in. Instead of reacting with anger, it is an opportunity to extend a hand to men and boys. Have a conversation, open their eyes to what their hindsight would never have seen and listen to them as we expect the same of them. One conversation at a time chips away bits of calcified narrations. Only then will everyone benefit from protecting the rights of all parties involved.

Balance is not a woman issue. It is a human issue. Real progress and development are only possible when all genders have equal rights and opportunities. When we take deliberate steps at eliminating inferiority and superiority complexes as well as mental slavery and seared consciences; when we encourage girls to be who they want to be and boys to accept change, the displaced pendulum will be restored.  Balance is possible.

I have a dream. I dream that the ratio of female to male members of Parliament will be 50: 50. I dream that women will not shy away from leadership duties. I dream that women will not assume men are born leaders and cower from responsibilities. I have a dream that someday, there will be a balance for all genders and my daughters will not be hindered by their gender and my sons will not be intimidated by an ambitious woman.

The future is human. Let’s build a gender-balanced world together. Cheers!

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