Now is the Time

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Petronella Sibeene

A saying goes, “A woman was taken out of a man; not out of his head to top him, not out of his feet to be trampled underfoot, but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arms to be protected, near his heart to be loved.”

I know, the words “gender equality” are heard of more today than ever before (in my lifetime) and indeed, the term has brought about a lot of misconceptions.

There are those who understand it as fight women have undertaken to be like men and others simply take it as a movement aimed to improve women’s rights.

Yes, in our society the stereotype of a husband is that he is the breadwinner of the family – traditionally the male – who “brings in the bread” from outside.

But I say whether it is hard to swallow or not, we all by now know that that stereotype is more of a myth than reality.

And recent developments in Africa bear testimony to that, the rest of the world has long accepted that women equal men as seen with Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi, among others. Areas that were once regarded as men’s domain are no longer exclusive to them for example women have entered the political arena, on the entertainment scene they equally play soccer and there are female miners too – a powerful testimony that there is nothing that a man does that a woman cannot do unless that which is biological!

Just this week, Namibia welcomed the first female African president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and I emphasise – she is female. She wears handmade clothing from Liberia, a simple skirt and blouse, a lovely scarf circling her neck … and the slightest bit of make-up if any. Her retinue reflects her simplicity: a secretary, one or two security aides and a Minister of Information and Communication.

As one famous saying goes, “everything has an ending”. All these historic events point to one thing – the days of male dominance are slowly fading away and we are soon to dance to Mandoza’s song, “Let’s Go Fifty-Fifty”.

Johnson-Sirleaf inspired many Namibian women and the Speaker of Parliament, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, unlike a few men I know, confessed he shares with Namibian women the veneration and celebration that a female is ruling. He sees no need to be threatened. We are working towards the same goal – development.

The fact that male and female differ biologically does not explain why human males and females should differ in behaviour or be treated differently by society. But in as much as we know that, no society we know of treats males and females equally. It is encouraging that the tide is slowly turning.

Nowadays women cannot bear being left out on important events: from attending the oath-taking ceremony at Parliament to enjoying the football world cup among the male crowds.

Before I am misunderstood, allow me to state that, I am not suggesting women should take over the world but that together with our men, we can do even better to the benefit of all.

Gone are the days when a female patiently waited for a male to woo her with a red rose and a mushy card. Gone are the days when a teenage, late bloomer cried in despair when her dream man proposed to her best friend instead.
Today females have left behind the stereotypical notion of Adam wooing Eve first.

Nowadays many of the females do not hesitate to select and approach the male of their choice. Some may find it absurd and abnormal, others may find it cool and sensible. But the bottom line is: Society is evolving; women have become more confident and have overcome their inhibition in listing their wants and desires. Gone are the days when the hero rescued the heroine when the villain captured her. Today a woman has become more aware about her surroundings and is more responsive to the slightest change in her environment.

Drawing inspiration from women in top positions such as Johnson-Sirleaf, I say “now is the time for all us (women) to acknowledge and explore our stature and our strength in society.”

Remember, that’s my opinion, I don’t know about yours! Eewa!

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