By Anne Mazvabo
“Women are the real architects of society”, so says Harriet Beecher Stowe.
The citation above brings a lot of questions to mind; questions like: Are women really architects of society? If so, why then is there so much outcry about women empowerment? Why is it that the world seems to classify women as a minority group?
It is not a secret that society appears to favour men.
The Oxford Dictionary defines an architect as “a person who designs buildings in many cases also supervises their construction”. This means that the woman is the planner, and is the one in charge of construction. But then looking at the current situation it does not look like women are in charge. It really boggles the mind.
The environment is not giving women or the girl child an opportunity to take charge. Women are oppressed through culture and religion, which seem to favour men.
This starts at childhood when a girl and a boy are treated differently. A boy child is treated like royalty, allowed to express his views and expected to be always in charge while the girl child is expected to be humble, never to lay out her opinions, because it is a sign of disrespect. A girl child is raised in a way that she feels inferior to her male counterpart. This way of raising the girl child affects her even when she grows up to be a mother, sister, aunt, or wife.
Even the spirits of those women whom we sometimes think are powerful; who occupy higher posts in corporate and political circles are broken, because they are wives and mothers. Women in executive posts face challenges of being disrespected or looked down upon by their male subordinates, who take their cultural and religious believes to work.
Such men think that they cannot be ruled by women, even if they occupy positions of influence. To add salt to injury the executive woman even faces insults from her female counterparts, who feel that her promotion came from sleeping with her superiors.
We live in a world which does not see a future in a girl child raised by a single mother. Society usually frowns when a girl child raised by a single mother marries well or achieves career-wise. To those who believe in miracles, it is a miracle. This is because of the absence of a male figure in the house during her upbringing, therefore, nothing good is expected of her. Our society disparages single mothers, or single women considered to be past “marriageable age”.
In society’s view, there is a certain age limit in which a woman is expected to get married, hence, if she passes that age, trouble grins at her. As a single woman, who appears to have passed that age in society’s eyes, I know the feeling.
It is such a time of trials and tribulations because every relative, even the closest ones, will be on your case. The first thing they ask me when we meet is: “When are you getting married?” As someone without a formal job, they feel pity for me, especially so when there is no man in my life.
Probably I should not blame them for thinking that getting married will be my salvation, and not my career advancement. It is the way they were also brought up, in a society that overrates marriage and relegates women to the lowest rung of the societal ladder.
My single friends who are domiciled out of Zimbabwe always say that the only time they feel pressured when then come back home is when they have to face the question, “When are you getting married?” Despite their successes professionally, no one celebrates them. They usually get sympathy from those angling for their money or other goodies.
It is sad that women are considered incomplete if they are not married. Fellow ladies, it is not a sin to live without the daily company of men, neither is it shameful, therefore, there is no reason to put ourselves under pressure. We should not be weighed down by societal burdens, for marriage is not man’s design, but God’s.
However, as I read the Harriet’s quote over and over again, I understood what she meant when she said: “Women are the architects of society.” She meant that we have the power to determine and design the kind of society we want, because we are the constructors of this society. Everything starts with a women. We give birth. We are the ones who are responsible for raising children. It is our teachings as mothers that mould personalities.
Ladies we need to empower our daughters and nieces with knowledge and skills to handle themselves when growing up. Teach them to never stop persevering. It is worth our time as mothers to teach the girl child to be strong and speak out her opinions.
We should never look down upon ourselves, for we are our own builders and societal constructors.