I could not help but be caught up in the euphoria of Ketanji Brown Jackson being the first Black woman to serve as a justice on America’s highest court in its more than 200-year history.
This in itself is a major win for women around the world and indeed to be celebrated, though I pondered on whether we as Africans are ready for women to hold offices of power.
African Women Seen But Not Heard
You see, in most African countries, women are to be seen and not heard. Whilst they single-handedly keep the family together, they still struggle to have the necessary recognition in the part they play in society and be valued the same as men.
When I think of the leaps and strides that women have made, I look at Africa and whilst women have progressed, there is still the underlying patriarchal nuance where a woman can not make basic decisions without the consent and approval of her husband, father or brother. For a woman to reach a position of power is something unheard of and indeed frowned upon.
In my humble opinion, for our continent to reach the levels of the Americas and Europe, we will need to deep dive into ensuring that woman have a seat at the table and address the following matters:
1. Change the mindset and educate people about the role of women in society and build sustainable collaborations between the governments to champion women’s causes. I recall the famous saying that if you educate a man, you educate a person; educate a woman and you educate a nation.
2. Put in place laws and policies that deliberately include women’s rights and create more cohesive policies and regulations that drive progress towards gender equality. Law and policy have from time and memorial been more favourable towards men and this is an agenda that has been pushed for eons.
3. Create opportunities and mentorship programs for women that are inclusive and supportive within the environment thus unlocking opportunities for women-owned businesses and ensure that the funding is equal to that of the male counterpart. Currently, women have not enjoyed the kind of funding that male owned businesses have received making women-owned initiatives less of a priority.
4. Invest and educate the girl child (taking into consideration that this will need to be in tandem with the education of the boy child as mentioned earlier that mindsets need to be changed). The boy child is simply regurgitating what he has been taught and this will take a concerted effort for the older man to break this cycle and give women a much-earned seat at the table.
With these four aspects adequately addressed we will see a change in the position that women hold in society and start to lead not only their homes and businesses but also countries.
The health of a nation relies on the well-being of women. Only a happy and balanced woman (man too) can raise a healthy and balanced future generation.