I’ve often been asked which side of the coin I fall on pertaining to the feminist movement and I have to say I’ve always not been sure. I believe in mutual respect of persons as well as accepting that there are certain things which I would prefer to have a man do for me without having to be taxed to doing them myself to the equal setting. The feminist movement as I first got educated about seems to be at odds with some of the persons who claim the label and are quick to virtually silence anybody that is male to the point that I at times pity the male child. Female bosses from experience have been worse than their male counterparts – some citing the difficulties they had to undergo to get to top. I would be of the school of thought that would have thought that the experiences they went through at being badly treated by males would have given them a head start in correcting and indeed showing that the alternative is better as opposed to becoming the abuser! The drive for equality which the feminist brigade appears to be about has to me done more harm than good. It focussed so much on educating us the females about how to get our rights to equality but spared little thought in educating the males with whom we had to share this new found access to equality. As a result, you get some of us females working twice as hard in all areas, in order to maintain the equality badge! From experience, it seems to be the case that feminism as played out here in developed countries by “girl power is all about gender battles if not fame at any cost, to put down men at whichever opportunity arises – not about co-existence or supportive roles for genders. This is partly why I am hesitant to support girl child programmes in Africa in their present format as most often they alienate the boy-child leaving me wondering what is to become of these secluded generations of young ladies/men or how they will benefit their communities in a balanced way.
Having started off on a rant, I will now give due respect to Annie Lennox, a feminist. To mark International Women’s day, I have been moved by the works of Annie Lennox in spear-heading in this year’s events which kicked off in London on the 6th of March whereby she gave an interview on what she and five other high profile females had to say on feminism as it is seen today (http://www.eurythmics.me.uk/2011/03/06/annie-lennox-in-todays-observer/). I am a fan of Annie Lennox’s music from way back in my early twenties alongside her bold move to come across as beautiful short-haired woman that opted to market her voice as opposed to shedding her clothes to market herself. I admired the resilience and spirit she has continued to show in coping with her private challenges alongside her activism in global social issues especially pertaining to the female gender.
The interview Annie and the other ladies raised questions which as a female with female children offspring, have further heightened my concern about how feminism is perceived in our society both here in the developed world and in the developing world – namely Africa.
“For me the anomaly is that the western countries are so resourced. I can identify with a woman losing a child. This happened to me, I lost a baby. But I’m living in a place where I can get medical treatment. A woman in Rwanda or Uganda or Bangladesh will deliver a baby on the floor and probably it won’t survive and there’s a good chance the mother won’t either. Being conscious of this vast disparity between our experiences, I’m appalled the word feminism has been denigrated to a place of almost ridicule and I very passionately believe the word needs to be revalued and reintroduced with power and understanding that this is a global picture. It isn’t about us and them.” Annie Lennox.
“Uganda’s maternal mortality rate continues at an unacceptably high level. While maternal mortality figures vary widely by source and are highly controversial, the best estimates for Uganda suggest that roughly between 6,500 and 13,500 women and girls die each year due to pregnancy-related complications. Additionally, another 130,000 to 405,000 women and girls will suffer from disabilities caused by complications during pregnancy and childbirth each year.” USAID.
Ironically in Uganda, given the state of the healthcare system, the female vote at virtually 90% is what endorsed to sustain the status-quo of Ugandan governance. We definitely need to revisit what feminism is or should be about.