Women, why women just won’t stop fighting!

I am a strong feminist and I love and strongly support the whole feminism ideology. I am of the belief that men and women, though not equal in every sense, deserve equal opportunities. So for me, it is not a question of being like men, but more on value – placing the same value for both genders.

Women attending peer exchange in Nairobi
Women attending peer exchange in Nairobi

I know and strongly believe that this is a heavy topic, that started a long time ago and that is not coming to an end any time soon. However, many things baffle me about this ideology, especially from the women’s perspective. I am currently a board member for Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) and I believe that this is a good platform for me to champion women’s agenda for the current generation and even the next generation of media women in Kenya.

We have to fight

I wonder whether it perplexes you as well. Why is it that when women are talking about equality, gender rights, women empowerment, always have to use these terms “we have to fight and we have to continue fighting, the fight does not stop today.” Two weeks ago, I attended public gender forum at the Nairobi’s Safari Club, a monthly event organized by Heinrich Böll Stiftung and the issue of women fighting for what they call “their rights” came up.

Women attending peer exchange in Nairobi
Women attending peer exchange in Nairobi

This specific gender forum was unique in many ways. It brought together about 30 women from across the region of East and Horn of Africa to deliberate on the topic-Constructing Political Spaces: Making Quotas Work. The primary objective of the Forum was to provide interested parties with a platform to interrogate the quota debate, interact with the high level gathering as they share the outcomes of the peer review exchange that was held that week, as well as their experiences.

As explained on the invite letter, Quotas have emerged as a key instrument for advancing gender equality in elected and public offices in the East and Horn of Africa, following a long and sustained push for the equal participation of women in governance by feminist activists, gender scholars, women’s sector practitioners and feminist political actors. In the East/Horn of Africa region, the push for affirmative action in favor of women in governance and the adoption of quotas to create special spaces for women has seen an increase in women’s representation in legislative bodies over the last couple of decades. Although strategies are very much shaped by the local political and cultural context, the question of how women can successfully negotiate political spaces and influence legislative and political decisions in a male dominated realm is a common concern across the region.

Kenya's Easter Achieng (L)makes a point during the peer exchange
Kenya’s Easter Achieng (L)makes a point during the peer exchange

The panelists were drawn from Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, and Kenya was represented by our very own Honorable, Priscillah Nyokabi, Women Representative from Nyeri county. One of the things I picked up from all these women despite their regional differences is that all women are fighting the same battle world over. They have been fighting and yes, they vowed to continue fighting.

Politics a male dominated field

“Patience, this is indeed a fight and we have to continue fighting. Politics is still a male dominated field; it is not an easy road for women. Our society has a long way to go until we are accepted to play the same role as men. I am the first-born in my family. I have younger brothers. In my culture, a mother is referred to, by the name of her elder child. My mother was never called Mama Nyobaki, they named her after my small brothers. This changed, but it only changed, when I contested for the political space and I won, then people now started referring to her as Mama Nyokabi. The world out here is very harsh and therefore, we are not backing down, the fight continues.” She said.

Hon. Priscillah Nyokabi
Hon. Priscillah Nyokabi

I pause and wonder, women have been fighting forever, do they still want to continue fighting? Where are we heading with this? Can we revise our strategies? Why do we feel that we do not deserve these positions as women? As Albert Einstein says, “Doing the same thing the same way, over and over and expecting different results, is indeed insanity of the highest level.”

Can we mentor young women and see them grow and ready to take up these positions? Is this possible or am I just being too ambitious?

Daisy Amdany, governance, development and women’s rights specialist says “Patience, women face unique challenges and we cannot back down now, we have to continue the fight.” “But for how long?” I ask?

Are we trying to say that women are second class citizens who cannot go for top leadership positions without the affirmative action? I stand to be corrected, but I have a strong belief that, a time has come for women all over the world to change strategy. It’s time to take stock and see if we have to change our system of carrying out our mandate as women.

Let’s go beyond fighting

Prof. Maria Nzomo makes a point at the E/A regional peer exchange
Prof. Maria Nzomo makes a point at the E/A regional peer exchange

I highly concur with Kigwa Kamenchu commenting on the same issue on the social media platform, “Patience, I’m with you here, after a while it must be beyond fighting, begging or engaging in acrobatics for people to see your worth. The women’s movement needs to take stock of where it currently is as well as the context of the situation. Right now tribe is the main mobilizing force in Kenyan politics, a collective consciousness by women of their issues is non-existent, sub-sumed by the rallying call of the tribe. And it is for this reason that women believe that they have to continue to ‘fight’ to get space, because the system has no time or place for them. It is time to go back to the drawing board. The other question would be of what importance is it for women to be in leadership, for what reason should they rally together, what value would it bring?. If the answer to this question is not strong or urgent enough (as it was in Post 94 Rwanda or Liberia), then Kenyan women’s movement will just keep on mark-timing and benefiting a small few.”

Somaliland women participate at the regional peer exchange in Nairobi
Somaliland women participate at the regional peer exchange in Nairobi

My thoughts based on personal experiences and even that of other people who are not for the fighting business, is that, fighting doesn’t lead us anywhere. Empowerment does.  If you are qualified and you can prove that you are up to the task, you’ll get that position, especially on the job contracts, regardless of your gender.

“The meltdown of a self-proclaimed feminist? I always say, nothing can put down somebody who is great. If you are good you will excel no matter the circumstances. Let all women concentrate on being good at whatever they do. Nobody will put them down.” Remarked Anthony Wafula.

And right there is our challenge. Women need to position themselves. Probably, this is the only way, we will eventually stop fighting.

 

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6 thoughts on “Women, why women just won’t stop fighting!

  1. Women have been fighting for long, my question is, they have been fighting against whom? Nothing in particular but everything, anything, everybody including fellow women! They just don’t seem to know whom to fight against, now after years on the war front, they are tired and fatigued but still the war is still not yet won. Older women tire out, young girl come thinking they are the first to wage this war, but not so! and so often, these young blood fall on their own swords. Truly speaking women don’t have the stomach to fight a fair war, they would rather jump to rooftops and fill the streets shouting for all to hear their just cause.

  2. Moving article…. Hello Patience, I’m Diana Waleghwa from the University of Nairobi. I’m currently writing an essay on MDG 3 initiatives in Kenya especially in the capital city of Nairobi. Empowering women through media is one of the initiatives of JPGEWE and you being a member of AMWIK and BBC media action makes you a valid point of reference for my article. Can you be able to grant me a short interview ? Thank you.

    1. Hey Diana,

      Thank you for reading my blog. I am humbled by your compliments. Sure, lets plan, I am more than willing to give you an interview. I wish you all the best in your studies.

  3. Hello Patience,

    Good work you are doing here. There are valid issues that women must agitate for in a society that is strongly patriarchal. Like you remember a girl that was christened Liz by the media from western Kenya in 2014. After raping the girl and being reported, the policemen thought it wise to punish the rapists to slash grass in the chief’s compound. I am ashamed that this occurred in Kenya in the 21st century. Women are not yet out of the woods. Or the lady who was sexually harassed by matatu operators in Githurai, while one of them recorded the episode on video…just to make a hit on you tube. 2015. November.

    Anyway, like you argue, the way to go is for women to be good in what they do. Men may resist the a competent woman, but just for a while. At the end of the day, merit carries the day.

    Thank you, class mate!

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