It probably feels like at this point enough has been said about women’s rights. Feminists across the globe have ‘shouted’ about it and every nation on the planet has some kind of legislation in place to protect and defend the rights of women.
Is there a need for more ‘shouting’, so to speak, about what needs to be done? That is a question that the few people who get to live in modern communities where human rights are upheld ask. That is a question that clearly paints the sheer lack of knowledge of what happens in many African households today, and may continue if this legislation is not put into practice.
A day in the life
A typical West African woman in a rural setting remains oppressed and lacks the very freedoms and rights that many before her vehemently fought for. Several Million African women wake up every day before dusk to start their day.
A typical middle-class rural family will usually have several children, some animals and possibly a farm to tend to. Women are expected by society to arise early, know what to feed their children and hastily go ahead to start a tiring day working in the fields to provide food for their families and sometimes for subsistence.
With market trading being the best way to replenish supplies, many women will usually sell some of their products in markets or frequent markets to buy supplies for their households. Water is fetched from streams due to the lack of modern infrastructure and fire is made from wood or charcoal bought in markets.
These same women who do most of the labor do not own land and continue to be foregone as heirs to their husband’s estates in the event of a death. Many women have to suffer in the hands of brothers and uncles who feel entitled to whatever little these women have left.
Many women are forced to forego their nutritional and dietary needs every day because they have to ‘sacrifice’ for their families. They eat whatever is left after everyone else has had something and how dare she enjoy a banana when her children have not had one in a while? The spirit of sacrifice is so ingrained and expected of women to the point that oppression is almost inevitable.
The oppression continues
Alcoholism in men is a rampant issue that a lot of women pay dearly for. Wife battering under such circumstances is hugely common and many women are forced to provide for their family’s basic needs and still live under these brutal conditions.
It is the need to be there for their children and just honestly lacking an alternative to turn to for help that keeps many women stuck in situations that sometimes end up fatal.
More Can Still Be Done
Yes, women have definitely shouted enough for their rights to be identified and put into the constitution. The only problem is that mere laws that translate to nothing for a typical woman living in rural West Africa are not enough to effect any tangible change.
Women are still the larger percentage of people without a formal education in greater Africa. Early marriage, rape culture and poverty cuts short and sometimes all together stop many women from getting enough knowledge to pull themselves out of oppression or prevent the situation from getting worse.
Granted, a lot has been achieved, but women still need education, knowledge and skills to empower them. Gender based violence is still a serious problem that shouldn’t be allowed to continue. The fight for women’s rights continues for as long as the oppression is still in happening.