Invisible Ceiling

Photo Credit: Kaz Chiba (Getty Images) - 88011528
Well this ceiling is only invisible to some... We just celebrated international women’s day, and this year seems like it was more popular than last. It could be that I find myself in spaces where we talk about it more often, or it was just advertised a lot better and people just know about it. I was walking with a male friend of mine the other day. It was just a few days before the international women’s day. We were talking about what we were going to do that day. He told me about how he has a sister that he is really close to, and she was always treated the same way he was at home. And I remember agreeing with him on several levels, because I come from such a household. Parents give you equal attention, your ambitions are your ambitions and family will do what it can to support. I have been fortunate to have access to education and encouraged as well. Then he said one thing that completely changed our discussion from harmonious agreement to a screeching halt. He said, “Actually, I don’t get what international women’s day is about, are things really that bad?”

Hold up, hold up, hold up!  Yes, I had to say it three times- because it needs that much emphasis. Just because there is peace inside your house does not mean outside your doorstep that war is not happening somewhere else. Just because in your few meters of life things seem balanced- doesn’t mean they are balanced everywhere. So, I decided to ask him a few questions. This honestly happened to me- I was driving with a guy friend and we had gone to the market. As I was trying to park, the lot was filled with these guys who come and wash your car for a few coins. They ran up to your car vigorously, knocking on your window- obstructing your view and concentration as you try and align the car with the parking space. Some stand behind your car- waving their hands and giving signals to allow you to park. Then I finally just followed the instruction and parked. That day, I felt like giving- so I remove fifty shillings from my purse- and hand it to him- and he looks over to the man and says, thank you. But, this was from my purse. I remember standing there and asking, why would you thank him?  It came from me. I have more instances where such occurrences in different circumstances have happened. The thing is, situations like this happen to women every day. Sometimes we take notice and other times we just brush it off.  However, there are some men who really have no clue.

Things are not black and white when it comes to gender- they tend to be grey. At what point are we undermining or disrespecting tradition and when are things just outdated? What do we even use to measure those things? Africa is filled with culture and traditions which are richly intertwined with our heritage and upbringing. The whole gender equity argument some are furiously against it because they do not quite understand what it is about. No one is talking about emasculating men. Africa will have to have her own definition- we cannot copy paste perceptions from the west and expect them to work here- there is no way they will. 

About The Author:
Nerima Martha Wako
Nairobi, Kenya

"Currently pursuing my Ph.D. from Euclid University in
Mediation and Conflict Resolution. I am interested in political leadership
in the next few years."

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