How democracy is slowly creating a woman’s world

The speed at  which gender relations keep changing in society is about to match that of technological advancements. With the fall of communism, capitalism and other western ideals the gender movement began to spread like a wild fire. Terms like republic, democracy, emancipation, gender equality, and later on affirmative action all joined the common socio-political lexicon. Democracy being largely a game of numbers has entrenched itself even in societies where the numbers game does not seem to favour societal harmony (especially in Africa).

The speed at  which gender relations keep changing in society is about to match that of technological advancements. With the fall of communism, capitalism and other western ideals the gender movement began to spread like a wild fire. Terms like republic, democracy, emancipation, gender equality, and later on affirmative action all joined the common socio-political lexicon.

Democracy being largely a game of numbers has entrenched itself even in societies where the numbers game does not seem to favour societal harmony (especially in Africa).

The trick was to ignore the demographics and focus on the simple logic that what most people want, they should get. This often pitted the biggest tribe against the rest of the tribes sometimes leading to bloodshed.

All this time society was considered a man’s world. Men made all the rules and enjoyed the glory of occupying the best spot at the top of the hill.

Men married as many women as they wanted, fathered numerous children without stepping in the labour ward. They ate the nice foods that were unfairly considered taboo for the women.

Some saw it as their right to not only demand sex but also beat their wives occasionally.

Mutabaruka, a famous Jamaican poet who took on a Rwandan name blamed this whole gender bashing problem on Christianity. He argues that the holy bible presents women in bad light by blaming them for the original sin.

Society continued to perpetuate this negative perception of women. For example prostitution is seen as a woman’s crime world yet it is indeed a two way street with men on the other side of the equation.

While growing up it was common to hear men saying that it was actually a curse if the first person one meets on his way is a woman!

Nonetheless, the negative branding of women in society did not change the hard fact that women actually make up the majority of society. Yes and being the majority simply meant that once the rules of the game became fairer then the women would take their rightful place especially where a democracy is in place.

So as the man’s world slowly embraced democracy it was unknowingly opening the doors for the women who held the advantage of numbers. The rules started evening out when cries of gender equality, gender mainstreaming and gender emancipation became modern day songs.

For the politicians, having the majority on your side was no longer a tribal issue alone; the women were a bigger constituency than any of the tribes.

Legislations to favour women to join politics and the civil service were put in place in several countries. The results took long to show but they did eventually.

Last year Rwanda (or in this case its women) achieved a huge milestone when it became the first country in the world to have a women dominated legislature.

Technically speaking therefore, Rwanda is already a woman’s world.

But even before the women in Rwanda were warming up for their share in all decision making bodies, their younger counterparts in Uganda were receiving an extra 1.5 points to join public universities. 

The aim was to make sure that more women could access higher education. Parents were known to marry off their daughters early and leave their sons to continue with higher education. On top of the extra 1.5 points, several organisations like Carnegie foundation sponsor several girls to join this university.

By 2009, some people were calling for the scrapping of this scheme because Makerere University was by then admitting more females than males. If the trend continues for three years then Makerere will have unknowingly turned into a woman’s world too (or university).

At the recently concluded 60th graduation ceremony of Makerere University, history was made. For the first time ever, more female students were graduated than male students.

Out of the 13,677 students who graduated, 6,936 or 50.4 percent were female. As if that was not enough, the best overall student was a female too. Ms. Emerentian Mbabazi graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from the Faculty of Technology.

I used to frown at job applications that carried the caveat, “Women are encouraged to apply.”

Now that Uganda’s biggest university is producing more female graduates I think soon, organisations may soon have to do away with this caveat. At this pace we are soon going to have more female professionals than male ones. 

Liberia already has a female president (Ellen Johnson) while its big brother USA almost elected a female president (Hillary Clinton). Did you also know that the richest black person is not Obama but a woman? Yes, Oprah Winfrey.

So folks, let us brace ourselves for life in a woman’s world. I heard someone say, that should be a great peaceful world.  

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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