Revolutionizing The Second Fiddle Role
“We raise girls to cater to the fragile egos of men. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller…they grow up to be women who silence themselves….” Chimamanda Adichie
This explains the dilemma women find themselves in; our diverse cultures, traditions and norms have impacted - to a large extent- negatively on the psyche of the girl-child. I come from a community where till date women are treated like second class citizens, we are not consulted when a decision is being taken, women do not hold any form of political freedom, we are relegated to the background and if you dare speak up, you are not being submissive. It comes as no surprise that a woman has not been chosen as a chief to represent her compound (traditional stools) when it comes to decision making; the women are generally docile.
In addition, there is an underlying fear- the loss of authority- that if women are given more roles to play in society they will no longer subject themselves to men and will be too independent. But alas, women have always been independent, business oriented beings. Take a typical village woman for example, she farms vegetables and other crops to cater for her family and sell to other consumers in exchange for an item. The proceeds from her sales go into catering for the children’s needs, stocking the home with food stuff and providing support for the spouse. In some cultures, women are the breadwinner of the family, so why are they denied political, economic, social and cultural rights?
This orchestration is a product of the many vices we see in society today and most of the times, the women folk are blamed. How is it logical that a woman is to blame if her husband cheats on her? Why should a woman be denied of her needs (female genital mutilation) and be duty-bound to please her husband at all times? Why are females blamed in rape cases to have instigated the bestial act? Why is it right for a girl-child barely 14yrs of age to be married off to her father’s age mate but termed as a “gold-digger” if at age 27 she marries a 50yr old man?
Unfortunately, society has emphasized these stereotypes and has programmed women to feel unfulfilled without a man, so it becomes the same life cycle over and over again. At girlhood, women are faced with child marriage, genital mutilation and psychological abuse; at adulthood – harassment, violence, rape etc. The saying that “women end up in the kitchen” still holds true in some cultures. So if a lady at age 30 is still single, she becomes insecure and would settle for anything so long as she gets married and is “respectable” This makes them susceptible to cheap blackmail and in most cases, desperationn drives them into making life-long wrong decisions.
How can this trend be broken, what innovation can be applied to make women and men at large begin to see the possibilities of a better society? It is in the promotion of political and social inclusion of women. There should be increased participation of women in public affairs, so it is pertinent to promote the rule of law and expand political reservations for women.
According to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, member states have been urged to increase the number of women in decision making at the national, state and other levels. This inclusion will create avenues for leadership skills in women to be sharpened. Furthermore, women should be educated to look beyond playing second fiddle and harness their skills towards the development of society.
There should be girls clubs in schools so that potential leaders will be caught early and trained on public speaking and innovative approaches to global empowerment. A lot of women are beginning to realize their potentials and are actually succeeding in their areas of specialization. In the political circle, women are beginning to gain prominence and relevance, which is how it ought to be. To women out there, whatever your dreams are – so long as it doesn’t negate society and the tenets of the good book- strive to make those dreams come alive and above all, be happy.