Features

It’s no longer a man’s world

By MAKWETI SISHEKANU
GENDER-BASED violence is a son of its historical powers. Without understanding the perpetuating force of this power, the son continues to grow into a gender-blind monster.
Today, male politicians and other policy-makers have been blinded by power – failing to see how, in history, the same female chores they have trivialised in current policies and practices bred them to their current positions of power.
Therefore, is there anything history can tell us about the power of women?
Of course, a lot! But just how did law, economic systems, politics, religion and cultural constructs evolve to define women as inertly inferior to men?
Only history can answer this question.
How did a few exceptional women excel to gain recognition in a male-dominated world?
More because of how they related to men than merely being a heroin in their own wise.
Women who excelled to rule over men, be it from the throne, office or in a home, were deemed unwomanly unique.
A phrase for such women has emerged; organised men to give meaning to the word Woman!
History of the Lozi Kingdom does not depict the great chronicles of Mbuyuwamwambwa – the female monarch at the helm of the Luyi migration and their subsequent establishment in the Barotse plains.
Rather, the history zooms in on how this goddess abdicated the monarch in favour of her son – Mboo Mwanasilundu, whom society, out of patriarchal indoctrination, deemed as the capable ruler.
No wonder a large part of history is written and handed down to generations by men.
Unfortunately, even the sacred texts of the Bible (a rich store of women’s history in itself) is predominantly laid down to us by men.
Hence pastors sexually abusing women in churches today make more headlines than women casting out demons from men.
History does not exalt the role of women in the French revolution. It does not magnify the gallant works of women who saved men during the German holocaust of 1938 to 1945.
History has decided to hide how America’s current prosperity is largely owed to the labour of slave and post-slave women in plantations – so does the history of the industrial revolution in Europe fail to give adequate recognition of the labour women provided in manufacturing industries.
For if history is defined in terms of the works of men, then women’s lives become ahistorical – consequently perpetuating their powerlessness.
It leaves women without memory of themselves and their great works.
That is the genesis of their devaluation, relegation and subversion in a world that rapidly moves to exalt the historical works of men and their sons.
At the same time, this serves as men’s port of entry into power – based on the influence of powerful historical records.
History is a stool upon which we climb to peep into the future while the present is the workshop in which we work out that future.
But how history is handed down to the present affects the present work culture and shapes the future.
Naturally, history is mostly prejudiced and biased towards its intended future.
As long as women allow men to write history for them, the fight for gender equality will still be lost to posterity and GBV will continue to our children’s children.
What women need today is not more money, jobs, security and affection; for these have always been plenty even in history – but power, voice and choice; upon which they should write and hand down their own history to shape the future consciousness of our children.
Then our children and their children would have been handed a true history of the power, voice and choice of women to earn their well-deserved respect, honour and dignity.
Then they would not be coerced by a legal instrument to regard women as fellow equals in development, in faith, in culture and co-workers.
As long as daughters have no history to refer to, the sons will continue to carry their father’s powers into the present shaping the future with a gender-blind consciousness.
To make it easier for women, however, our pens and papers must be healed from patriarchal hegemony so their history can be written down without prejudice.
The author is an environmental and gender expert working for the Zambia National Farmers Union.
makwetiskanu@yahoo.com


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