Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unequal Steps to Gender Equality Lead to Inequality. how about men's right?

I have been keenly following your column. I must admit that it is one of the columns that I read and get what I LIKE. You must keep it up and diversify it by talking to both men and women. The issues of both men and women should be your future subjects of discussions.
Many a time when people talk about gender, it’s only the female’s aspect which dominates the discussions. I feel that is not the case, gender refers to both sexes, having said that, I will try to address the issues of women rights. Women and activists tend to sideline the men folks. There is too much talk about women’s rights, women’s federations, women’s bill, one can go on and on and the list will never be exhausted. Is this not too much at the expense of the women themselves?
It appears as if gender equality is taking unequal steps which in turn result in the biggest inequality. Women are right! Women’s right......Then What about men’s right.
Let’s closely look at our school system. The campaign on girl education was so much an activity that we have more girls in our school system than boys. All because of the focus on the incentives and other packages set for the girl child. Are we solving a problem or creating more? The answer definitely is we are creating more problems than solving one. What will happen to the many boy children who should have gone to school but will not because the parents’ financial incapacity to pay their school fees? This will create a situation where many parents will rather prefer sending their girl child to school than the male child. The circumstance did not only demand the education of only the girl child. If a boy and a girl child can all come from the same poor parents then what is the sense in talking about education for girls only?
Today if one goes to the rural towns and villages there are more boys not going to school idling than the girl child. What will happen in the next ten twenty years to come when the male folks will be more of a liability than asset to the nation? And even the very girl child that we said we are protecting will be the first victims. How are they going to be the first victims? They will have husbands and their children depending on them, because of the lack of education and employment. In turn these female household heads will suffer.
This campaign of discrimination must stop. Our school system should put in place a system where both sexes will have access to equal educational opportunities. The eradication of illiteracy is the progressive campaign to engage in. Why the segregations, when our constitution is very clear about segregations. Why too much emphasis on girls and not both boys and girls. I agree that yes both should be given equal opportunities but the way we are going in the past years is only going to yield negative impact on the society at large.
Lets also look at the civil service all the chiefs at work places are females. How many female cabinet members? How many directors are females, how many NGOs are headed by females? I have no problems with giving positions on merits basis, no matter what gender the person belongs but just to say yes we  in the Gambia are first to have such and such as a woman is beside the points.
It has become a norm to an extent that that the ministry of education is feminine, so was the justice ministry at one point, and so was ministry of health also at one point. And also at one point almost all the generals were females. I do not have any problems with that but it has to be based on merits.  Women and men are bound to live side by side. Meritocracy has to be given priority.
Our women folks need to be supported and both men and women need to be on the same level when it comes to opportunities, but what I am opposed to is the preference given to the women folks over the men on the pretext of promoting gender equality. Whether done by the state, organizations or individuals, for me that is not the right thing to do.
I am trying to see what effects such a preference over one sex by the other can bring about. Like in the school scenarios, where so much facilities are given to the girl child over the male child and that is leading a drop of male education. I am sure those behind such policies did not foresee the ill effect of their policies. Now that such are coming to light why not something be done now and right now.
The leadership, the numerous NGOs and some state apparatus that focused on girl education at the expense of the male child should revisit the policies.
The access to land and the issues of poverty having a female face are all issues that I read at one time in your column. Land in this country is not exclusively owned and managed by men alone. Go to our rural areas where rice is cultivated. Many of those lands belong and are managed by women. So where is the entire cry about women not having access to land? Family heads mostly manage the land that belongs to the family but it never excludes the female members of the family.
In the village I grew up, yes, there are more male family heads, but when it comes to the cultivation of the land during the rainy season, land is divided equally. Female members of the family have land to cultivate, their upland rice farms, and go to ‘’banta faros’’ they are the leaders in such cultivations, so where is the evidence that women have no access to land? 
Poverty, yes, I would agree is really a course for concern, the women and men are both poor, let no body fool us. In fact the poverty of men roots cause of the poverty of women in The Gambia. It is no secret we are poor and there is no line between women and men as far as poverty is concern. It is sad that the propagandists are peddling the fact that poverty is a feminine thing. The country is a very poor country. Its people be they women or men are just poor. Period.
We need policies that will change that trend. State monies should be spent in the productive sectors, and wisely too. The country is a tax based country, therefore its monies should not just be allowed to waste like it is.

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