You’ve heard it said that women are the real architects of society.
Then you have witnessed incidences which negate this saying in the form of women going through so many injustices in the hands of men. Then you have doubted the authenticity of that statement, even wondered if when said by Harriet Beecher Stowe it was meant to be taken literally or it was just a reference at the use of irony.
These real architects of society have been physically, emotionally and financially abused in marriage. In worst cases they’ve been maimed and even killed. They have been sexually harassed at their places of work, they have been denied promotions not because they don’t hold merit, but because they happen to be women. They just happen to be women. And also the real architects of society.
Take the example of this one woman who made a decision not to board a full bus one evening. I was in the same bus. Only, I was seated. She wasn’t.
She was with a male; could be friend, colleague or boyfriend. She and the male friend (I will just go ahead and assume it was a friend) got into the bus not knowing that it was full. The conductor was after all standing at the door touting, beckoning at anyone who cared to listen to board this particular bus as if it still had the space for a village. Now, he would not keep doing this if he knew that the bus was already full, now would he? Yes. He would.
There were no empty seats. The lady wore confusion on her face, wondering if her eyesight had not adjusted properly to the dimly lit bus – nightfall was approaching and it was raining so the clouds had made an early night out of the evening. She mustered patience in time to ask the conductor where she could sit.
The conductor ignored her and kept calling for people to get in. It wasn’t long before the lady and her friend realized that they were meant to remain standing. He was taking advantage of the fact that it was raining. She was not amused.
Lady made the most obvious decision given her circumstances; she suggested to the friend that they should get off the full bus and wait for another one. Makes sense right? Pretty normal, right? In fact, what should be expected, right? The friend agreed with her.
She did what all of us would do at around 5 or 6 in the evening when we have finished the day’s work and are eager to go back home to our children, our husbands, our dear loved ones. What you would do when you are tired and are not keen on taking this journey back home while standing on your tired feet. Especially when you have a choice.
The conductor was not amused.
“Look at him being controlled by a woman!” he referred to the man as they were alighting.
I could not help shaking my head. Is a suggestion stripped of its goodness when it passes through the lips of a woman?
Are these the kind of prejudices we envisioned dealing with in the 21st Century?
Are we hell bent on never taking a woman seriously if it kills us?
I sat there, waiting for the bus to take me home. Having been rained on a little bit, feeling tired after a hard day at work and wondering why some men felt that a woman in control is a woman to be frowned upon.
I wondered if that man has ever made a decision to elect a woman leader as his Member of Parliament, his Senator or even Governor. What he thinks of Hillary Clinton, a woman vying for the highest office in the land. I wondered what he thought of his mother. If he rubbished everything she tells him because she is a woman. Did he still think that a woman only needs to know how to keep her mouth shut? In this year of our Lord 2016? When you think about it, aren’t those just sad and depressing thoughts?
See, I had time in my hands and so my thoughts were free to wander as far as I could let them. I was looking outside the window at the falling rain, the perfect recipe for deep thoughts, as the bus manoeuvred its way through traffic to take us home.
The thought at the tip of my mind was whether or not the world was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that we are capable of leadership? Do you think it is?
Why is it that when a man heeds a woman he is labelled names? You’ve heard these labels; “Amekaliwa Chapati”, it is said.
Have we broken that glass ceiling that hangs slightly lower than the men’s? Why the disparity anyway?
My thoughts then strayed – it was after all still raining and the bus was finally out of the traffic jam and cruising the highway. I could not help thinking about the upcoming African Women Leaders Symposium, an event to be held on 24th and 25th August at SafariPark Hotel. I’d read earlier that the Symposium will bring together women in Leadership to deliberate on how to best actualize transformative leadership which will give opportunity to women leaders to leverage their leadership, power, influence and access to the advancement of women and girls’ rights.
I could not help but hope that attending such a forum will nudge women leaders to take the mantle and lead other women to believe more in themselves and in their power to lead. Hopefully, the woman who still feels that she cannot do anything because a man says so, will finally realize that she does not require validation from him to be great.
Hopefully one day, in the near future, not even one man will look at a woman and sneer at her decision-making capabilities. Hopefully, all men will embrace the fact that women are as much capable of leadership as men are. We are after all the real architects of society, aren’t we?
Well, my thoughts could have gone on I’m sure but my journey had to come to an end at some point, no?