The Man is Always the Hero

Gender Equality And It’s Role In Economic Growth

The patriarchal system we live in today has taught us that all heroes are men. Movies were made and books were written about the glorious men that have graced out societies. We were taught how they shaped the world and gave us our present; but what about the sheroes?

This past week has seen me listening to and participating in discussions surrounding leaders and leadership in Africa. The concept of leaders has been penned as smart, intellectual males that are movers and shakers. Africa has not been spared of this way of thinking. With cultural practices that promote men over women, Africa has been slow in making head way in the attempt to gain more female leaders in the community. The gender-biased cultural practices has resulted in Africa only seeing three female presidents since the first country gained independence on the 6th of March 1957.

Before being seen as leaders, women are seen as child bearers, household caretakers and sexual objects. The traditional image held by women makes it difficult for women to enter the economic realm, and make a significant impact in their community. Because the value of men is seen in the manner in which they provide for their families, a working woman can be seen as a threat to the male ego. Thus due to the fear of change and losing power, women continue to be suppressed. Suppressed by being told that they are incapable and “unwilling” to become community leaders.

Until 2013,  husbands in the Ivory Coast could decide on the family residence and could legally stop their wives from working if they deem it against family interests (Women’s Financial Inclusion in Africa, 2014:37). Cultural practices in various African countries prevented and even prohibited women from inheriting from her deceased husband. And even with women making up 60% of the informal workforce in Africa, they only receive about 10% of all financial aid; Robbing them of the opportunity to better their lives, and those of their extended families.

For centuries African women have been made to believe that they are second class citizens. The stories of Makeba and Amina have faded into history, making women today feel like they are weak. However unmeasurable strength can be found in the African woman. And in order to achieve success and development, Africa can no longer ignore its women.