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Women – the symbol of humanity

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A century has lapsed since the first celebration of the remarkable international day when scores of women took to the streets demanding their economic and social right in the abusively male dominated world. The world is reflecting on the past and pondering on the fate of women’s future.

Speaking at a women’s suffrage convention in 1868, citing sternness, selfishness, love of war among other qualities, which she said have seen a record of blood and cruelty in the male led world, Elizabeth Candy concluded that “the male element is a destructive force”. Women are full of love for peace, harmony and order. It is only sad that this heart has not yet been placed fully at the centre stage of development.

Now I need to challenge men to start thinking of a single normal day. Have we ever stopped to think how many women die daily while giving birth, how much a woman takes the family on her shoulders in the midst of difficulties, how many innocent ladies we abuse on the prostitution market today, how all children in the world seek the love and protection of a mother. And then stop to think how many women have been raped today, how many women are crying because of violence now. Yet they never stop to love and smile. The very same people at the sacrificial altar for the continuity of the human race today still cry for recognition in society. Look at a newly born girl child, a poor young lady in the remotest part of a war tone country today and know for sure that she is a symbol of this endurance, this suffering in this world into which we all come in the same means for the same life.

Turning to this day, consider how much we celebrate the turn of the New Year, how much we honour one fallen hero in your country versus how we honour mothers who die giving birth for instance. Do not we get to feel that it is not enough just to celebrate this day doing our daily duties behind our office desks? Do not we also feel that it is not enough to show love respect and honour to women during only one out of 365 days of the year.

All the same, turn to a lady next to you, yes you see that symbol, think of your mother, your own sister your neighbor, perhaps you are lady yourself, yes your are the symbol of humanity, love, care, life above all of this endurance. Your struggle is not a mere demand, its not a political exercise, not a fallacy but goes beyond measurable terms. As weak as you may seem physically, the power of sustaining life is in inherently in your being. For those of you who believe the Bible, consider that, when God wanted to serve the world He neither sought for a powerful King, nor a strongest man of the clan, but a woman in the name of Mary”

I salute you women.

One comment to “Women – the symbol of humanity”

  1. Comment by Trevor:

    Good fathers help their boys treat women with respect …
    They lead by example by respecting their partners, wives, and the mothers of their children. Boys learn from their fathers to treat women with respect, not to use violence to get their way or solve their relationship problems.
    They let their daughters know that they must not accept abusive behaviour from men as the norm. They help their daughters to tell men that their father would never use abuse towards them, would not sanction their brothers or other relatives to do it so why should they accept it from any other man? Fathers play a critical role in providing their children with safe home environments that are free from abuse and neglect. All children deserve a chance to grow up unafraid.
    Today, in many of our African societies the link between being a ‘male’ and ‘manhood’ is neither automatic or easy. The constructions of masculinity changes over our lifetime. For example, it is one thing to be a male child, another to be an adolescent and yet another to be a ‘man’. The timeline may stretch or contract, street kids lose much of their childhood innocence at an early age, poverty delays the ability to marry, to start a family and provide for their needs – an essential part of an adult male identity for many societies.
    Many societies in Africa have fundamental constructions of ‘malehood’ that take violence and its use to solve problems or exercise power as a given. The militarization of many of our societies bears testament to the conflict and contestation over power that has characterized much of our history in the 20th century. Shortly after the Second World War, the disappearance of the restraining influence of elders in Ciskei resulted in young men aggressively and violently claiming sexual rights over local girls (Mager, 1998, quoted in Morrell, 2004). Males are thus able to claim manhood at a young age and without the approval of adult men.
    Similarly economic and labour systems have ‘unglued’ many families through migrant labour and absent fathers and mothers. We’ve come to accept the abnormal as the norm.
    Recent definitions of masculinity see it not just as a physical development of the male child into an adult male body. It is rather about a widening array of choices that men can make, sanctioned by society as we gain status through our education, age and our lifelong learning. We can choose to be, choose to change, choose to act in a different way. However, the choices men make are not free, they have to be accepted by other older men whose definition of manhood young men aspire to and require for their legitimacy as adult men worthy of the name. Manhood is therefore ‘acted’ or ‘performed’ through key initiations and transitions that vary widely in their formal or informal effects and also through the daily practice of a ‘male’ life. It is constructed from a number of available repertoires and role models that tell men how to be. Some of these may be ‘good’ and some may be ‘bad’.
    We are at any one time many types of a man, strong, decisive and self-acting – attributes that in themselves are not too bad in a complicated modern world. We can also choose to be resourceful, creative, caring and sensitive – witness many writers, poets and singers in all parts of Africa. The choices men make are restricted by various factors, strength yes – but also social status, material resources, and family and societal ties.

    * Is fatherhood necessarily implicated in gender inequality?
    * Do men use their position as fathers to oppress women?
    * Or does the assumption of fatherhood produce men who are more responsible, more tolerant, and more supportive of gender equality?
    These are key questions in considering how fatherhood is related to constructions of masculinity and the use of violence by men within families.
    The ‘family’ is changing – today a child may not know or be brought up by its biological father, many men take on this role and sometimes they do it well, other times not so well. Literally millions of men have never known what it is to have a warm, close and nurturing relationship with their own fathers. We expect them to learn on the job and shape a child. This overestimates the influence of biology and ignores the other forces that shape a child’s life chances.
    If we assume that a child does not ‘need’ a biological father, does he (or she) still need an adult man who fulfills the fatherhood role? Controversy reigns and the debate is not over. But study after study shows that children who do have such a positive, active father figure in their lives have better life outcomes. The best compromise seems to be that, ideally, children should have adult men around them, to care for them, love them and to provide role models.
    Fatherhood is understood in different and contested ways. The term ‘baba’ is in many African societies a polite form of address to an older African man. It suggests connectedness and a particular kind of protective and respectful relationship between a younger and older person. The content of the relationship is not specified. The biological relationship between baba and the person who is addressing him is also not defined. (Richter and Morell, 2004).
    It is our contention that one strand in tackling domestic abuse and violence should include the opportunity for many men who have shown a disposition towards violence in their relationships ‘a different narrative’ for their lives.
    Our work around domestic abuse therefore is not just about ‘fatherhood’. It is rather an opportunity to use some of the best attributes and values that older men can use as ‘social’ fathers, elders, ‘baba’, to encourage other men – particularly younger men, away from seeing violence as a way of finding worth and status in their relationships and move themselves towards a more caring and co-operative way of managing their relationships.
    “Do no harm,” must be the mantra of every man in our society and especially fathers. Situations of family and relationship violence impact couples, but can be particularly harmful for children. Recognizing and responding to domestic violence reduces the risk of harm to children and supports families in their efforts to achieve a healthy relationship. Fathers who play a safe and positive role in their children’s life have been shown to reduce a child’s risk of suffering from short and long term negative effects including abuse and neglect. All relationships should be safe (non-violent) and positive (mutual respect).

    The African Fathers Initiative Men Against Domestic Violence Pledge

    I proudly pledge my support to become part of the solution to domestic violence. By signing this declaration I am taking a public stand to confront and end domestic violence.

    I will participate in creating a community that no longer tolerates domestic violence. To do so, I pledge to further my knowledge and understanding of domestic violence and the responses it requires from the community. I make a commitment that I will never use or justify the use of emotional, sexual, physical, or economic abuse against an intimate partner.

    By example and by leadership, I will teach that strength and manhood are not defined by violence or domination. I will speak out even when it is more comfortable to be silent. I will join with other men, across our differences, to speak with one voice to say “no more.”

    It is time for men to stand against domestic violence. These acts destroy the fabric of our communities. We honor the leadership of the many women that have fought tirelessly on this issue and we join them now in solidarity, firmly committed to equality.