By Chipirilo Manda
At the mention of the word “Gender” what comes in mind is the woman and all the problems she faces at the hands of men. All problems the female folk face have their genesis in a man. It is therefore not surprising that the world is busy coming up with policies, pieces of legislation and projects all aimed at bridging the gap that seems too adamant to be closed by a few shovels of sand.
Some feminists argue that patriarchy is at the center of many if not all problems that women no matter how diverse, face. Some will find this assertion absurd but only if they fail to look at patriarchy as a system orchestrated by men to further their own agenda at the expense of women and children. Bridging the Gender gap therefore means getting rid of this evil system in the midst of our societies. So, to do this, men are often shoved aside and labelled the oppressor. Any woman, who for one reason or another decides to act indifferently to her fellow women, is regarded as the collaborator and enhancer of patriarchy. Perhaps that is true since the aforementioned is at the center of all tribulations faced by the descendants of Venus.
There seems to be a belief by many women that men, do not understand Gender. As posited by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in WeShould All Be Feminists,men do not actively think about Gender or notice it. While there are elements of truth in this assertion, this paperfinds it faulty since it generalizes that all men are in a way un able to notice disparities that exist between sexes. This commonly held assertion is what prompts many women to exclude men in their fight against gender related problems that are deeply entrenched in almost all societies in Malawi and the world at large.
This paper feels that there is need to redefine the position of men and their role in the fight against gender related disparities and problems. The first step in doing this, is to try to understand that not all men are enemies. Though it cannot be refuted that many men feel threatened by the women’s quest for liberation and that some even try to take measures to frustrate such efforts, there are others who feel that being female does not make one in any way a lesser human being. Such men, must be commended and encouraged to stand up against anybody who oppresses women regardless of sex, color, position and social standing. It should be the role of men to strongly call upon their colleagues to desist from doing anything that degrades a woman be it intentionally or otherwise.
Sexually suggestive jokes that often fill the public and private conversations both at school and most work places should not be condoned even if no one complains. Men should be made to understand that there is nothing funny in referring to female anatomy in ways that make women uncomfortable. The absence of a complaint does not necessarily entail zero victims or grievances.On the same, abusers of women should not merely be reprimanded by word of mouth but rather through tough punishments that would act to deter others from doing the same.
It is of essence to ensure that initiatives should focus on bridging the gap without punishing the male child or laying the burden solely on the male sex. It cannot be denied that in the course of empowering the girl child, many boys have been left to wallow in ignorance and abject poverty hence creating a new gap. In a world where compulsory heterosexuality is regarded as the norm, one can only guess that in the near future the educated girls will be forced by some not so pleasant circumstances to get married to the ignorant boys we are neglecting right now. It is the opinion of this paper therefore, that empowering the girl child at the expense of the boy does not solve the problem of gender disparity but perhaps changes its complexion, a thing which complicates the problem further.