• Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

TOWARDS A BETTER SOCIETY FOR OUR WOMEN

Mar 2, 2024

TOWARDS A BETTER SOCIETY FOR OUR WOMEN

 

Behind every successful society, there are women breaking barriers, shattering ceilings, and shaping the future with elegance and strength.”

 

Quite recently, a video showing the public assault and humiliation of a woman made the rounds on social media. The said woman, a widow in her late 60s had been found in a ‘compromising’ position with a man, alleged to have been her lover. Both individuals had been ‘caught’ pants down and promptly arrested. This is where it gets interesting. All through the video, not one disparaging word was made against the grown man, who appeared to be in his late 30s. As a matter of fact, most of the assailants hailed him like you would a hero. Yet, the elderly lady was not only stripped bare but flogged repeatedly. Even her children could be heard in the background screaming obscenities at her for daring to take a lover, barely ‘5’ years after the demise of their father!

Hardly a day passes without the news of sexual and physical assaults on girls, women, and even babies across the globe. Globally, the sexual assault and objectification of women continues to reach alarming heights. Females encounter grave violence for a plethora of reasons some of which are social, economic, cultural, and even religious. A perusal of religious documents across myriad religions reveals one blood curdling yet recurrent theme; these scriptural texts all encourage the ‘ra.pe’ and ‘pillaging’ of women from conquered territories as a fitting ‘compensation’ for victors. It is no wonder that sexual violence served as a veritable tool for the promotion of war efforts in not only the First and Second World Wars. Guerrilla efforts and conflicts even in relatively small communities boldly utilize the gross objectification of women and girls as an effective tool of war and genocide. These horrors are even more prevalent in patriarchal societies like ours that have consistently promoted toxic masculinity at the expense of its female populations. The Rwandan, Armenian, Yugoslavian Genocide are clear testaments to the horrors which humanity for decades have unleashed against its most vulnerable demographics…women and children. Even the  current Ukraine vs Russia situation, bears the bold print of these abuses.

Although the wars are over and a new dispensation has been ushered in, yet the subjugation of women and girls persists across borders, both at home, in the workplace, in religious organizations, in the health sector, etc. Women have not only felt the harsh brunt of society’s prejudice but its systemic nature has gradually made it a norm. Even worse, women have become active participants and perpetrators of violence against other women. Every year, the statistics of casualties from domestic violence continue to soar, yet the legal arms of the government make minimal convictions annually. A girl is brutally mutilated and discarded by the roadside, yet rather than a collective outrage towards the perpetrators, followed by a determined effort to apprehend the criminals, public opinions will choose to focus primarily on the victim’s alleged ‘wild ways or ‘materialistic’ eye. As a society, we constantly blame women for the crimes committed against them to the extent that victims of sexual assaults opt for a lifetime of silence, while their attackers roam free and unperturbed. These women have to contend with a lifetime of trauma, depression, and PTSD. This does not bode well for us a people.

It is time to acknowledge that women are indeed humans deserving of equal rights, dignity, and agency. Society must understand that the humanity of women is fundamental to promoting gender equality, and tolerance and fostering a more diverse and inclusive society. This will serve to affirm the inherent worth of women, respect their autonomy, as well as ensure their equal access to opportunities, resources, and freedoms. Treating women as humans means valuing our voices, experiences, and contributions in every aspect of life, whether it’s in politics, economics, academia, or culture. It involves challenging harmful gender stereotypes and norms that perpetuate inequality and limit women’s potential. It also entails confronting existent systemic barriers and prejudices which mitigate against women’s continued participation and leadership in society.

In addition, recognizing women’s humanity entails addressing issues such as gender-based violence, reproductive rights, and economic empowerment. It means ensuring that women have the right to live free from violence and coercion, and the autonomy to make decisions regarding issues that pertain to their bodies and reproductive health, such as the choice to undergo abortions or be married or child-free. Today’s women deserve a right to determine what is right for them without having to face the vitriol of society and religion. In essence, affirming that women are humans too is not just a matter of moral principle but a foundational step towards achieving gender equality and social justice. It is about recognizing and upholding the inherent dignity and rights of every individual, regardless of gender, and working towards a world where all people are treated with fairness, respect, and equality.

Treating women with respect and dignity is a fundamental necessity that requires urgent action and accountability. This imperative is not up for debate and is essential from moral, social, and economic standpoints. Women have the right to live a life free from oppression, discrimination, and violence. Any society that fails to treat women fairly and justly undermines its moral values and hinders progress toward social and economic prosperity. Improving the status of women is not only a moral issue but also a social and economic imperative. Women play a critical role in society as caregivers, educators, community leaders, and economic contributors. Empowering women is necessary for building healthy, equitable, and resilient societies that foster progress and innovation.

Moreover, gender equality is connected to broader social issues such as poverty, health, and education. Numerous studies have shown that investing in women’s empowerment and well-being yields significant dividends. Gender equality is positively linked to socioeconomic development. By unlocking women’s potential, societies can boost productivity, innovation, and economic growth. It is high time to remove the barriers that hinder women’s full participation in economic and social life. Women continue to face persistent barriers to economic participation, such as wage discrimination, limited access to credit and resources, and unequal opportunities for advancement. By creating an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment and removing these barriers, societies can unlock a vast reservoir of talent, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Finally, treating women with respect and dignity is not solely a women’s issue but a societal imperative that requires collective action and commitment. By challenging stereotypes, dismantling discriminatory practices, and fostering inclusive policies and institutions, we can create a world where every woman and girl can fulfill their potential and contribute meaningfully to society. It is time to take a stand and work towards building a fair, just, and prosperous world where gender equality is not just a goal but a reality.

 

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