She Changed It
“If the first woman God made was strong enough to turn this world upside down all alone, it should take all of the women here together to turn it back, and get it right side up again.” The abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Sojourner Truth made this statement in 1851, yet today, the year 2020, with billions of women worldwide, the world is yet to be turned the right side up.
Women are still denied equal opportunity and are still subjected to unfair treatment in all walks of life, particularly in politics, despite the demonstrated capabilities by a few of them opportune to hold a public office. One case I always find as a luminous example of that of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia who was the first democratically elected female president in Africa. During her tenure, the country navigated the effects of the Second Liberian Civil War and also the Ebola outbreak successfully. She also won the Nobel Peace Prize, and this shows that if given the opportunity, women can do just fine as men.
Some women in Hollywood scene have opened up about the abuses they suffered at the hands of film makers. This is accented by the #MeToo movement which saw more and more women coming out about the sexual harassment that they have endured for decades behind Hollywood’s fake glittering image. The #MeToo movement soon sparked the #TimesUp movement which called for an end to the sexual harassment that women face in not only tinsel town but across the world.
In 2019, the legendary actress Frances McDormand impassioned speech after winning the Academy Award for Best Actress called for more women representation in the movie making process. Recently in January of 2020 the Golden Globe Awards were riddled with controversy for not representing women in their categories for best director even though there were a fair number of women who directed praise-worthy films.
In a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, it was shown that organisations that are diverse in both ethnic and gender spectrums tend to have higher financial performance as compared to organisations that have a low level of diversity. One of the highlights of the research was that because of the wider pool of ideas and points of view that come from different avenues of the social, economic and ethnic upbringing of people can enrich the decisions that are made.
I strongly believe that women are capable of great influence and can impact positive change when given the opportunity to do so.
Our society is still overly patriarchal. The African girl is still taught that she has no place in the workplace, but only well suited for the kitchen and the bedroom. It still doesn’t approve of women to earn a decent living as men or to be career driven.
Although we have come a long way in the emancipation of women in my country Zimbabwe—at least women are now permitted to have personal bank accounts—I reckon that we have much further to go. Gender equity is compulsory for our society to thrive.
1Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I A Woman Speech, Women Rights Convention, Ohio 1851
2McKinsey & Company, Moving Women to The Top: McKinsey Global Survey Result, October 1, 2010.
Kudzai Mhangwa lives and writes from his home in Harare, Zimbabwe. He writes poetry, plays, short stories and essays. His work has been showcased in House of Mutapa, Thinking Out Loud, Ka’edi Africa, All Poetry and elsewhere.