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Women….then………perceptions and power

…….Elvis –Wura Towolawi.

History and Time have not been fair to women. In many societies in the world, being born a girl-child, into the circle of women is to be born a burden: a second-class personality; an alternative; a chattel of pleasure; a beast of beauty; a subject of yoke. But grounds are shifting, women’s faces are breaking free from the veil of tradition, taboo, religion, stereotype and sexism etc that have connived to keep the beautiful feet of women drenched in the morass of indignities and social suffocation. Women’s voices are ringing above the cell of silence, coyness, and backstage – to demand for equal standing, equity and access to the multiple windows of opportunities covered by the brass-plate of patriarchal piety and pretense. Women have begun to reassert themselves as an indispensable factor to a balanced, humane, progressive and peaceful world. Now, what’s the raving and ranting about women power? What benefit and gain is a more womaned world going to accrue to humanity? And where would men stand in this new world order?

When most people encounter women power in any corner, they are quick to scream feminism; labeling it a distortion of the natural selection of gender roles. In fact, Chinweizu, a foremost radical pan-Africanist and male chauvinist once argued that, “feminism is a revolt in paradise!” What ‘paradise? Perhaps, the one populated and run by strong men folk, with women skulking about as dancers, cooks, baby-machines, farm-hands – men – pleasers. But you see, when we talk about women power, we are agitating for the total liberation of women from the shackles of man-made norms and culture which have made many women’s lives drab, average and bitter. When we speak of women power, we are asking for the inclusion of women values into the socio-political configuration of our world. When we thrust our fists for women power, we are simply telling the men and world to open their eyes to how void, violent and colourless the world would be without the charms and character of women. And that we should listen to them, embrace them, and apply their wisdom in moving the world ahead. We are saying let women sit more, side by side with men to confront the mountains facing mankind.

There’s no gainsaying the fact that women from creation, are imbued with subtle power, capable of building up when accepted; yet, when scorned and snubbed, vengeful like fire – a destroyer. Why are we not harnessing such wave of ability embedded in women’s bellies? Are we still fooled by the notion that the devil sits at a woman’s heels? May be, a word from Sojourner Truth, a former slave, minister and women’s rights activist, may quench our angst:

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!

We need more feminine touch to man leadership post in the world; for “the lack of women in leadership roles means a waste of talent, skill and insight”. Yes, we may have some pockets of women in top-shot position in liberal nations, yet it falls short of equality which brings balance and effectiveness in leadership. For example, in Nigeria, statistics reveal a pitiably and ridiculously low representation of women in elective post – pegged at less than 7 percent. This is a country where female participation in politics is branded ‘harlotry’ by male political bull-dogs. Yet, we all stand to gain from a greater participation of women in decision-making in the world; for “it’s only when the masculine and feminine work together that we can reach any sane or lasting solution” plaguing humankind. Apparently, this female deficit accounts for most obnoxious and inhuman policies; policies lacking human-face. And since women are the womb of compassion and humanity, would it not be an advantage for humankind to have them influence our laws and peace-pacts?

More so, to empower women is to empower humankind. To liberate women humankind; to celebrate women is to celebrate humankind. The world’s poorest are women. The world’s most violated and degraded beings are women. These hard facts were officially recognized at the Beijing Conference in 1995 where representatives all over the world voiced the numerous plights of women. Women suffer gender-based violence – at the home-front, during conflicts, and even in street corners. The sufferings are not moon-light tales, but are calculated measures to make women feel less human; and must stop if we are to live in a more humane age. Affirming this position, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Laureate said, “the education and empowerment of women throughout the world can not fail to result a more caring, tolerant and peaceful life for all.’’

However, let’s point out here that women power is not an anti-men movement; rather, it is a redefinition of worldviews; a redress of injuries and injustice, and a creation of a level playing field for all humans – women and men. The domination of women by men to their hurt is no license to wish away the helping hands and heads of men in the attempt to attain a truly gender democratic society. Thus, the men folk must be reoriented to see and approach women power as a struggle to create a balanced, engendered world where both ‘male and female energies’ are utilized for the betterment of all humans. It’s only a foolish head that refuses the beautification and balance of the neck. Men in power must begin to accept women as equal mates in the administration of state, and should desist from regarding women merely as praise – mongers and plaything.

In all, women power represents a paradigm turn around for many women around the world suppressed by egoistic patriarchy, traditions and systems from achieving their fullest potential. But women must understand that rights and freedom are not handed over to the oppressed by the oppressors as gift on a Herodian platter; so, they must advocate and fight for their rights. They must show strong-will power, competence and integrity. They must win the battle at home by making men feel and know that they are not warring them, but only asking for equal treatment and opportunities. Also, states should assist women by domesticating the CEDAW; implementing the Beijing Agreement and employ ‘positive discrimination’ to bridge the terrifying social gap between men and women. Attitude must change – women are also men, only that they occupy softer, succulent and sensual bodies and should be treated equally. Women power!

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