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Discrimination against women is so last century

By -JENNY LUESBY | May 7th 2013


There are times when one realizes just how much the Earth is not one planet. Thousands of years of civilization, trade and travel, decades of international treaties and of Governments that declare accord, and yet even our take on human rights remains completely divided.

Take the matter of women. In very many countries on this planet, and supported by science of every shade, it is a statement of obviousness that men and women are equal.

But in Kenya, to state that women are equal is a departure into radicalism that will draw controversy from every quarter.

Yet why is it that Kenya remains so stuck on the idea of men as superior beings?

Men, we are told every day, are the decision makers. They cannot be ‘told what to do’ by a woman. Women must be ‘told what to do’ by men.


And so it is that Kenya runs, decade after decade, along these grooves of two sets of human rights, long after most of the rest of the world has achieved comfort with women’s equality.

For sure, the generational shift is clear. The older the Kenyan man, the more entrenched the attitude of women as a submissive species. Younger men are less threatened by women, less phased by co-operation: their education shows.

But deep within the nation hangs on the belief that women are a problem.

It is as if the West fell off a cliff when it got over the women-are-a-lesser-species phase; as if Scandinavia, or Scandinavian men, imploded, with women’s rights that are possibly the most advanced in the world.

Yet the facts are that Finland, by many counts, is the wealthiest nation in the world: a country where men and women are equal, and the richest too.

And there is reason behind that.

For, as a principle, submission is not an aide in driving Kenya to growth and wealth.

The loss from 51 per cent of the population being held as ‘not fit to decide’ is that the collective tapping of brilliance, and wisdom, of energy and drive, is slashed with this redundancy of half of adults.

Kenya is less with half a population of  real adults than all those nations in the world where men and women, both, are full-blown decision-capable citizens.

Even legal efforts to draw on women are stymied, with whole cabinet selections held up: it being so hard, apparently, to find women competent of ministerial leadership.

Some 20 million citizens to choose from, but we can’t make quota on Members of Parliament, and look at our corporate boards of directors, our management structures, and our parastatals.

All those poor organisations unable to find a woman who is smart: as in, Kenya has 20 million low-grade citizens?

Yet the struggle is real — because being smart is an expensive route for any women, up against the baseless ‘knowledge’ in Kenya that women ‘should’ be submissive. Thinking for themselves costs women their family. They will be condemned in the heart of their home, in their workplace, by their social networks, and most definitely on the radio.

Bizarre period

They will be held back, abandoned and pilloried.

What smart women want is to be smart when being smart is so wrong, and so damaging?

Better to act dumb.

And thus we close down half our population’s potential with the bigoted, everywhere promotion of the human rights of a ‘submissive’ form of human being.

Yet there has never been a society that has thrived on wholesale repression.

Men will not become redundant when they allow women to be equal. They will not stop being men. They may become more accountable. Maybe the infidelity and behaving badly will end faster when we can get over this bizarre period in our gender politics. But men will always and forever continue to lead, drive, make great enterprises and great families — even when women are doing it too.

Until then, and for every man who claims that women are unequal, only search your own ‘smart’ side and come up with the reasons.

Are they the same reasons why South Africa run as an apartheid state for so many years? Are they the same reasons that saw whites argue that were the only ones fit to make decisions, and that blacks were not?

Anyone can lead

No one gives reasons why women should submit.

They only state they should. And it was the same way when it was blacks who were supposed to submit.

There was never any foundation for the repression: it only makes a whole society sick, and so much less than it can be.

It is not right that one tribe is fit to rule and another is not.

It is not right that human rights are for some, but not for others.

But it is true that depriving others of all that they can be hurts us all.

The truth is that anyone can lead: what matters is their brilliance, not their gender.

The writer is Group Content and Training Editor at The Standard Group.

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