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ACTION TO END GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE, INEQUALITY & DISCRIMINATION

Years ago when I heard the word ‘woman’, my head gets filled with mental images of someone saddled with the weight of the world, doing endless chores and still not being appreciated and for a long time I thought that was ok, that is how it ought to be.

As I grew in both age and self-realisation, I realised that the woman was a far cry from those stereotypes, and I began to see her as a being equal to her male counterpart.

Most religions and cultures across Africa depict the ‘woman’ as the weaker one and the ‘home maker’, who should not be seen or heard. Many people have grown up with such beliefs and therefore view women who challenge and defy the norm as deviants – westernised rebels. In some cases, this engenders violence against them if only to force a change of attitude but also to deter others from following in their footsteps.

Society has made adequate room for the man to excel: HIStory, HEro, etc. But I feel and believe that the time is right to try HERstory? And what should an ordinary woman who has achieved extraordinary feats be referred to? Why don’t we try Shero? It is time to shift and even rattle the status quo. Women deserve their stake and rightful place in our society.

During one of the "You And I Teach Each Other (UNITE)" program sessions that I co-facilitated, about 30 students who participated talked about Man vs Woman. When asked what comes to their mind when they hear the word Man, a lot of them answered: father, strong, bully, doctor, discipline, God, carpenter, strong-willed etc. However when asked what comes to their mind when they hear the word Woman, they responded: care-giver, cleaner, nurse, mother, teacher, hairdresser, emotional, weak, loving etc.

In comparing Man to God, it was as if they were asserting that any being that is intelligent and strong and has the power to create something as vast as the universe must be Manlike; and conceding that a woman could not have such attributes. Ms Erica Licht (Facilitator) pointed out that it was very possible for both sexes to have these attributes as they were not innately pre-programmed into the bio-physiological makeup of the man or the woman.

Within the UNITE sessions, the word gender was analysed and broken down as a "socially constructed phenomenon", in other words, these are roles that we have learned over time, that have been imbibed in us, that we have been made to role play either through customary traditions, religion or even through ‘formal’ education’. The point is that we accepted these ‘half- truths’ without stopping to ask or think – do I really agree with this role bestowed on me?

It is almost as though the woman is forbidden to rise above defined ‘expectations’ and venturing out of the ‘confinements’ would be regarded as delinquency and she could be seen as a ‘black sheep’. In some ways it is as though, she has become a perpetual mental slave to religious and cultural ideals and a concomitant dread of challenging the norm.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that if we collectively want to put an end to gender- based violence, inequality and discrimination, we must learn and teach others to see the woman as first of all a ‘Human Being’ equal to any other whether male or transgender and not as a slave or weaker being who exist only to do the bidding of her 'master'. By so doing, her place and contribution to modern society can be established. Only then can women be viewed as partners and as equals and as stakeholders in the future of our world.

This article was originally published on www.socialwork4action.blogspot.com on the 23rd of March 2013.

Comments

Vweta, you are a vehicle for educating in the hope of inspiring lasting changes and solutions. That's what Sheroes do. With each blog post and captured story you are stretching your reach, gaining momentum and strength. I can hear your powerful voice my friend.

Creatively,
Stacey

Vweta's picture

Dearest Stacey

Thank you for your kind words.We, as Sheros must take it upon ourselves to effect the change we wish to see in the world. Posterity remembers.

Thank you Stace, for your continued support and friendship.

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

delphine criscenzo's picture

Your strong voice is so

Your strong voice is so inspiring! It is more then time for women's voice, stories and accomplishments to be acknowledged, recognized and celebrated.
I am so honored to know you Vweta!

Delphine Criscenzo

Vweta's picture

The Honor is All Mine!

Thank you for reading my post.

Women have had their stories told by men and their accomplishments snatched away from them for too long. It is time we told our own stories and celebrate our sisters. Grow our tribe and wax stronger, and that is exactly what WP has done and is doing. Kudos to you all, the WP team!

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

Mauri's picture

THank you for your clear-crisp words!

Dear Vweta,

thank you very much for having shared powerful and clear words! I agree with you completely, especially when you say that to end gender-based violence culture must be changed, so that women are fully appreciated for the human being they are.

I also agree with you that qualities stereotypically assigned to women, and as such devalued, are in reality "human" attributes any member of our species has. The same is for "men" qualities, too. And reflecting on what it really means to be human would do us all a great good.

Devaluing qualities "feminine" is a sick attempt, in my view, to disengage people, men especially - but not exclusively, from our human heritage. To make us... what? Consumers? People self-conceptualizing as tough and invincible warriors, but in reality docile as sheeps?

We human are "built to connect". Our brain differs significantly from other species, upper primates included, because of the number and connections of our mirror neurons. Compassion, nurturance, community-building are also found in ther species - but never as highly represented as in us humans.

Besides: the "place of women" you say of Africa is the very same in Italy and a not so small part of Europe, as I see. Maybe deviating from the norm doesn't place you in so an immediate danger, but you see and feel the stigma fully. Being independent and having a voice is seen as a "quality" in men, but gives to many a spark of worry if coming from a woman. Many fragile men cannot just tolerate women who might surpass them, as being a "number one" (a number? - how yucky an idea) is so important to the de-humanized (domesticated?) masculine self-concept. For this (sick) self concept to stay unchallenged, it is necessary that something so illogical as a "hierarchy among genders" exists, and in this women occupy by necessity the "lowest rank".

But we can hope a lot. We humans are much more than chickens and a pecking order.

I'm confident that your voice will help debunking this all.

So, thank you, and go!

Love

Mauri

Y's picture

You may not be aware of this,

You may not be aware of this, but in cloning there is no need for the male. Cells can be taken from the female and implanted into the womb of the female to create new life. Men fear this; therefore they continue to attempt to weaken us.The "virgin birth" myths feed these fears.

The fact is that women and men need each other in so many ways in order to be fruitful, not only in procreation of the species, but in building a better earth.

It is time that we see that all of us are born to serve the betterment of our earthly communities with whatever talents we have. Those who sustain life with the most "menial" services should actually be the highest paid because they are the most necessary.

I "sold" myself to my third husband, the first who would have paid anything to be honored by my service to him and the contribution he makes to society. We are partners in all that we do. This is the secret of sacred partnership in which the two become one spirit.

Yvette

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