Women: Their own worst enemies?

How a woman (or a man for that matter) handles the assets “below the belt” determines their success or failure in life. Indeed, the assets “below the belt” can either make or break you regardless of your status or station in life.

John Makumbe
John Makumbe

Many big men have been brought down to very low levels because of the manner in which they have handled or mishandled their assets “below the belt.”

The same has also happened to some big women, but the subject of discussion this week is the haunting question: are women really their own worst enemy? Is it true that men are gender insensitive and are always seeking to promote themselves ahead of women in occupying positions of power and decision-making?

In Zimbabwe, we know that women are generally reluctant to participate in politics – preferring to take up administrative, secretarial and clerical positions in government and other organisations. The same situation prevails in corporate bodies. We know that the major reason why women are reluctant to participate in politics in this country is that there is just too much violence in that arena. If the level of political violence is drastically reduced, I am certain many more women would be glad to participate in politics.

Women are generally afraid to challenge men or to compete with them for high level positions in organisations. Most women are timid, or they simply tolerate being over-looked in terms of promotions and other forms of advancement at their work places. They easily become their own worst enemies by failing to assert their rights when key decisions are being made pertaining to their careers.

Some women engage in PhD syndrome: “pull her down”. Whenever they see fellow women going up the ladder of success, they do all in their power to pull such women down. This is done through gossip, scandal, insinuation and the like. Few women rejoice and celebrate when their fellow women attain higher positions that enable them to compete equally with men. Some will even begin to suspect that these “successful” women must have used some of their assets “below the belt” in order to get where they are now. Women can be full of petty jealousies against other women.

When it comes to elections, women voters always prefer to vote for male candidates to represent them in council or in Parliament rather than women. They assume that a man will do a better job in these positions than a woman. It is high time the women of Zimbabwe organise themselves to vote for all women candidates – regardless of party affiliation.

If this could be done on a regular basis, men would be forced to ensure that all parties make strenuous efforts to field more female candidates. Women’s groups should do more to educate women to vote for other women when it comes to election time.

In families, mothers are sometimes the first ones to suggest that when resources are short, the family should strive to educate the sons as opposed to the daughters. Mothers think that they will be better looked after by their sons than by their daughters. This is not always true; some daughters do a much better job of looking after their parents than their brothers.

So, what can be done to rectify this unhealthy situation? First, women should just pluck up their courage and begin to actively participate in politics at all levels. That way, they can be instrumental in eradicating political violence. During the constitution-making process, women lobbied actively for a 50/50 representation in all senior positions. While this will be very difficult to attain, it is very likely that such a provision will be made in the proposed constitution draft.

Second, women need to gettheir qualifications in order so that they can effectively compete with men for senior positions in all sectors of our economy. Without the requisite qualifications women will not easily occupy senior positions at the same level as men.

Third, women should actively and relentlessly challenge the status quo and push for gender equality in all areas of human endeavour.

Fourth, women should be urged to vote for female candidates in all elections until gender parity is attained. Little or no regard should be paid to political party affiliation.

Fifth, women should persistently demand that affirmative action policies and programmes be implemented by both public and private organisations.

Finally, women should be at the forefront of denouncing political violence at every turn. I know that this is a tall order, but women cannot sit back and screamabout gender inequality without taking strong measures to enable them to put an end to some of these practices. Women have to stop being their own worst enemies.

Post published in: News

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