New women challenge obsolete systems

The past few decades have seen the emergence of the ‘new’ woman who is economically independent, highly educated and sensitive to issues of gender inequality. For Shirley (not her real name), a chartered accountant who works for a local auditing firm, the patriarchal system that characterised our country since time immemorial is now obsolete and no longer compatible to what she calls “sustainable huWoman development.”

Thokozani Khupe
Thokozani Khupe

“A UN study says that women do 67 percent of the world’s work, yet their earnings amount to only 10 percent of the world’s income and they own only one percent of the world’s property. This appalling inequality has provoked some of us to work hard and become self-reliant,” she said.

The review of admission criteria at universities, which allowed women to gain entry with low points, and the rising number of universities that accept those with as little as two points has encouraged many women to acquire tertiary education and take up influential positions in the public, corporate and civil sectors.

Shirley believes that the patriarchal system should be abolished to make the world a habitable place for women and to bring sanity. She says this must start by transforming the use of words such as “man-made,” “mankind,” “he,” and others, to mean people.

Her sentiments tally with research that says the use of such words reinforces gender stereotypes and stereotypical gender roles. “Why should the word man be used to represent both women and men?” asked Shirley.

It is also ambiguous to use such words because the listener or reader must first assess whether they do actually refer to a male or are being used as general terms to include both genders. Shirley believes that the English curriculum in Zimbabwe must include issues of gender equality as they empower girls to become self-reliant.

“Women are not born for them to wait to get married. They should take up key positions in business and politics. We should be inspired by the likes of Nancy Guzha, Divine Ndhlukula, Dr Hope Sadza, Thokozani Khupe, Jessie Majome, Oppah Muchinguri, the list is endless,” she said.

Post published in: News

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