One of the questions that always baffled biologists is; why do men have nipples? They perform no obvious purpose, and yet they look like a biological anomaly.
The reason why men have nipples is that all embryos are conceived as female, only after a few weeks some change into male embryos and some stay the same.
This moment in life, just days into the womb, can determine what kind of life you will have. The Y chromosome is attached to the X to form XY the male, or it stays XX to make a female child.
It should not be that way, but sadly it is, Rwandan men are realising the benefits of equality on a rural level. My grandfather decided in the fifties to educate all his children equally, the fact that my mother was educated laid the foundation for me to be born in an educated environment.
I was fascinated to talk to villagers and see that they wanted to educate their female children, this new digital world has no physical impediments to success for women, it is about changing mentality.
Even a reformed chauvinist like myself, sees the risks of investing all our hopes in men, for centuries we have operated at half capacity. And yet women still face the same series of problems, mostly stemming from a need to control women’s fertility and domestic labour.
Females are socialised to be maternal from a young age, females form the bulk of the agricultural workforce, they provide the majority of the administrative/clerical core of any nation, and yet they are left behind in some regards. Some women in the modern work scene forget about any notions of childbirth as it would kill their career.
When women overcome the obstacle of getting employment, they then have the delicate balance of the work/life conundrum. Children are affected, families break down, and the women get blamed. Few blame a man for working 15 hours and rarely seeing his children.
Western countries have had the benefits of technology, science, social education and money, to help bridge the gender gap. In Africa , we are yet to find a method of truly liberating women in their original rural context without resources that are needed. Urbanisation and modernisation is seen as the answer but 80% of Africans live in rural areas.
So as we celebrate International Women’s Day let us continue to fight inequality, not just between men and women and between women and women. Some women are steaming ahead, others are lagging further behind. Just looking at the women in my family, some are in Kigali , some in Mutara and their lives are so different and can be classed as centuries apart.
The fact is that poverty affects women worse than men, men in poverty exploit and abuse women. Educating women produces a positive cycle in society, they instantly will educate and socialise their children and grandchildren. I think this will be the women’s century, the end of thousands of years of male domination.