This year marks 101 years of International women’s day but I wonder if things have changed for African women in real terms. There is no doubt that there have been huge changes for the better but how wide spread these changes are is the subject of this post.
If we speak generally we can see that within the last 100 years Africa has had its first Woman President in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf something that some among had never dreamt possible .
Increased access to education for African women has meant that many African women have it into the boardrooms of multinational corporations, governments, political and education institutions and agencies as well as international institutions. This increase in access to education has also meant that African women have access to jobs/employment outside of the home than was previously the case and consequently african women now have financial independence and as a such a say as to how this is spent in the home.
African Women are also making huge strides in the areas of technology and indeed the head of policy at Google African is an African woman.
This is all great news indeed. But and there is always a big but, the disparity between the women I have described above and those at the bottom, mostly rural African women is huge. Progress for such women is hampered by several things,
- African culture and norms
- access to education
- inability to negotiate how family income is spent
- having no say as and and when they can have children or how many children for that matter (contraception comes to mind here)
- property rights
- world issues such as globalisation
It is not my intention to discuss each of these in detail here as we have discussed some of them of this platform several times. But I would like to turn to the issue of what has been termed as LAND GRAB which was the topic of the BBC Africa debates last month. What struck me in that debate was that African women were being hit by both the effects of Globalisation and remnants of African culture that do not serve us. A woman on the programme said words to the effect- we do not have a say in how the land deals are negotiated because we are asked to leave the room when the negotiations start
This is not the first time I had come across such a practise as late last year I had a conversation with women is Kisoro SW Uganda and they too complained about not hang a say on issues pertaining to land and how it is used etc. My worry here is that African women have responsibilities to ensure that everyone is fed and in fact grow 50% of the continent’s food. What implications does this have for children in particular?
My question to you fellow Africans and friends of Africa is
What can we do to ensure that the world of the African woman who has no property rights, access to education, independent income etc, converges with the rest of the world?