In our African societies, girls/women are brought up by their parents and guardians in a way that they can become tolerant, strong with domestic works and also submissive to men, this is how some of our societies believe girls should be raised up to become good women in the society. A lot of oppression may come with humiliation keeping them far from many rights versus men, and this culture make men more superior e.g. In several African traditions, most of women don’t have the right to inheritance, not involved in decision making and in some society it is not easy for women to be elected or appointed as leaders.
In rural areas these stereotypes still exist associated with a lot of myth, taboos to help these practices firm. In urban areas lifestyle has changed a lot compared to the rural parts. Lack of education among people, access to newspapers, television, absence of NGOs supporting women rights with legal aid provision in the villages have been great contributing factors to this challenge.
In rural areas, some men marry a lot women with an intension of using women like tools for works where use them during cultivation season by having them doing a lot of cultivation «hand hoe work», and in the harvest season a man become the one to sell crops and even misspend the whole money alone. Sometimes I even ask myself “why does it sound so impolite in my society to say women should also have the right to marry many men as men do?”. Arranged and forced marriage is also another factor treating human being like commodities this is very unacceptable and very irritating to see some parents arranging marriages and negotiating for dowry out of girl’s will sometimes not even consulting her, what only matter with these type of parents is wealth they need for their survival by exchanging their daughters for cows that’s it! Sad enough, most of the Women Legal Aid NGOs are concentrated in town and big cities while most of problems these problems are in the villages and small towns.
Domestic violence is another scenario, some women get chased away by the relatives of their husbands after their husbands have passed away without any right to inherit anything based on many tradition rules, and this happens a lot more when kids are still young or a woman didn’t happen to have kids before the loss of her husband. Some get beaten by their husbands and strange enough in some tribes like Kurya, women also consider an act of getting beaten is an expression of love from their husbands… from my opinion I think Kurya women need to wake up and learn to press back against this violence since there is nothing like love in violence, violence is violence and it is against the law and human rights! Some get beaten severely.
All these have created a lot of inferiority complex among African women, this makes them feel inferior and submissive to men, lost confidence to stand against men in elections, academic affairs, affected their choices in job carrier and studies. Most of decent jobs are considered to be men’s job and the opposite is meant for women. I think there must be many women regretting to be born women due to these immoral traditions existing in our societies.
In Tanzania, the government and other stakeholders have made a step towards women empowerment despite of a great demand to still be there. The government formed special seats in the parliament (Appointed Member of Parliaments) for women in order to increase a number of women in the parliament where many women have shown their good leadership capacities that inspired many, this has changed a lot of peoples stereotypes and started to vote for women and women started to come out and contest even for the highest posts in the government. In the education sector, science studies pass marks for girls are lower than boys’ this also has promoted many girls to go for science studies of which were firstly considered to be boys/men’s studies, law reform at the national level and formation of bylaws at grassroots level have been developed to promote and protect women’s rights and developments etc. This has given a lot of boost for women in Tanzania in their economic, political and social positions today. Despite of all good achievements still more work need to be done especially in the rural part where people are still very traditional.
United Nations initiated different programs and projects to promote women’s developments and women rights in Africa and the world through its agencies including UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). UN has also been promoting gender equality through Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the goal number 3 of “Women Empowerment and Gender Equality” demanding to increase the number of girls participation in the in the higher education etc; different statistics have shown improvement in this area of UN work but still more work is need to be done.
From my opinion, I think the best change is that one coming from the society itself, we don’t need to wait until laws and bylaws are made to push us to do the right thing for our own sake, just from the common sense these traditions do not make sense at all. Respecting and valuing women as our dear sisters and mothers and getting rid of those negative myth, stereotypes, taboos or anything associated with bad culture and traditions can be the best way to make a positive change in our societies. Women have great link of making a good society and the best way to develop any society in the world is to develop women first, they are the ones taking more risks with the families, suffer the most from the poverty effects, rising up children of the world who later become good or bad leaders. If it starts with us young people of our generation then we will have cured the rest of generation to come. All human are equal and deserve respect equally let’s stop this violence and promote human rights my fellow youth. Gender has nothing to do with success or developments, anybody can become anyone in this world it is all about our minds.