Feminism is a concept embraced by most women if not all women. The theory and movement was developed to fight for the rights of the oppressed gender/sex: the right to have an equal chance in society.
The two basic classes that have always existed are that of the man and the woman. The woman has always been the inferior class, the undermined the oppressed. Their views have never been sought for unless when declared necessary. The patriarchal societies believed that women played a minor role in the development of society. Women were silenced.
Feminism is basically a theory that advocates for the right of women to be given equal opportunities as men on all grounds i.e. politically, socially and economically, without being unjustly undermined.
It is a fight for a gender sensitive and conscience society. The patriarchal society initially was so strong that it even affected the language of communication. Thus the fight for equality has also to include the type of language used. Take examples of words like:
All these words have the male connotation in them. This means that the struggle for this equality has to begin from the most basic of levels. The women are described as a function of the male, and for a while women were comfortable using the males as a base to define themselves.
Of course now it is said that women have created their own dictionary with words that do not define them through the male. But that is another debate, for another date in this forum.
What mothers teach their sons and daughters from an early age affects, the way the daughter views herself and the way the son views himself in relation to the other gender.
Yes, in every society we do agree that culture and traditions are part of our identity, but any culture and tradition that undermines a gender, is not worth being cast forward into the winds of time, to be carried into the future. It is best to forget such vices, and only remember them as bad dreams, if one has to.
The African woman has for a long been dragged back by these traditions, and the fight for equality, has brought about two groups of women: the “traditional woman”, and the “modern woman”.
The “modern woman” views herself as independent and modern, she scorns at the “traditional woman”. The “traditional woman” views herself, as the humble woman, the one every African man wants as a wife.
This holds development hostage in terms of female emancipation. What defines a woman, especially in an African society? Is it her ability to be a wife material, to have children, and to raise a family? Or is it her ability, to discover herself and follow her dreams, and be the best she can be, regardless of the rules she will break? Or is it both?
In Kenya for example there are many women who failed in the last general elections, because, they were either too young, or they were not married, or they were not good wives, or they were accused of failing to hold their families together, or because they were just women, depending on the constituency.
This is not the time for righteousness on the part of the woman folk. Women have been oppressed for so long by the patriarchal society, that there is no room for a woman to feel sorry or to be sympathetic for herself. Society is never a constant factor, what is there today can easily change to be history tomorrow.
Women should use themselves to be the wheels of change. It should be noted that just like most things in life worth fighting for this change will take time. It does not necessary have to be on a grand scale, but if each woman seeks to do what she can in her capacity as many are doing so today, the ripples of change will be sweep the world like a huge tidal wave. Whispers will become loud voices. Persistence is the secret.