Stop gender rhetoric

 

Just imagine equal and active participation of women and the youth in the social, political and economic activities of Malawi. How much will the wealth of the nation improve? Massively, not so?

We already have this situation, at least in all political party manifestos.

Parties of all colour have noted the glaring under-representation of women and the youth at all levels. The platform is already set!

We have heard enough of the rhetoric. Like everyone, I wonder how quickly we are going to see the checklists and timelines, if any.

 

Let us skip all the nice, but vague political rhetoric for now and embrace the practical ideas.

What particularly stands out for me is Dr Jerry Jana’s reaction to the gender question during the first presidential running mates’ debate on  March 7. There was a proposal for special district constituencies where only women would be allowed to contest.

I just admired his off-the-cuff thought process.

He replied: “Anytime that you start classifying or declassifying people, there is always this feeling that you are discriminating. There is a positive side and negative side. I would not think women would love to be given empowerment on a silver platter as if it is a gift”.

I felt that this was so deep. There are so many deserving and competent women professionals and politicians who can participate in their own right. But the playing field should first be levelled. The country must adopt competency as a criteria for selection and recruitment.

Women are claiming their rights as human beings, not to be gifted positions and titles. I still believe this is the progressive and transformational mind-set we need to embrace as voters. We all must vote for competent people.

Professionally and politically, women and the youth have been sidelined from positions of dominance, power and ultimately leadership.

I am proposing we deal with the leadership question first. We have pockets of toxic leadership at all levels that have not only oppressed competent people but also tainted well-meaning women and aspiring youth. This perpetuates the malaise. We need to deal decisively with these “elite men’, the untouchables who have assumed power through partisan means and connections, manipulation and hypocrisy.

We also need a baseline study to prove or disprove how deep patriarchy-perpetuated oppression of the women in Malawi is. I am mindful that most of the human behaviour is driven by multiple variables.

Let us deal comprehensively with all issues not in a selective manner.

The girl-child, for instance, has an inclination to people-oriented professions and her counterpart, the boy, inclined to experiment with things.

This leads to the bias in some professions having more women, such as nursing. Men dominate technology, engineering and construction industries. This again would impact the 50:50 agenda.

We therefore need more women in engineering, technology, construction and sciences in general.

Therefore leaving the boy-child in the journey would disadvantage the girl-child in the digitisation era.

Most tech jobs have already been taken over by men, creating a pipeline for ‘men dominance’ in the digital revolution.

I have not seen any survey on this topic, but men dominate technology and construction industries.

We cannot achieve this by name-calling: mahule, babies or nkhalamba.
Malawians deserve better than just classification of people in this partisan and senseless competition marred by name-calling.

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