So everything is now back to normal, I presume, after a weekend’s visit to our country, from the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
I particularly liked something he said concerning women yesterday, when he addressed the nation from the Safaricom Indoor Arena. He cautioned us against treating women as second class citizens. Something that many feminists are very familiar with in their common quest for gender equality. He further mentioned that when you educate a woman, then her offspring will surely be educated.
It was indeed very refreshing to hear someone speak so passionately about the need for women to be respected and protected from FGM, early marriages, Sexual Assault as well as Domestic Violence. These are injustices that happen on nearly a daily basis in several parts of the world. I have read chilling stories of women from the DRC who have had to endure continuous gang rape from soldiers.
One particular story stood out for me, of a Female Activist from the same country, who got gang raped as a result of her Activism. She is currently in one of the refugee camps in our country. It was heartbreaking to read about the kind of horrors that women from war torn countries have to endure.And especially women trying to advocate for change.
Indeed, I felt very lucky to be a Kenyan and from a country that has endured relative peace since Independence. And as much as ethnic clashes happen in certain parts of our country, as well as the 2007 post-election violence, majority of the women in Kenya have been safe.
I believe that the President of the United States had a very strong point in suggesting that the rights of women should be respected. He seemed particularly impressed by the young women in our country, with an entrepreneurial spirit as well as a zeal to champion for women’s rights. As a father to daughters himself and the president of a Superpower, he indeed understands perfectly the contribution of all genders to a society.
However, I think that the young women of this generation in our country, need to first change their mentality in order to be successful. When compared to other nations in the world where oppression of women is rampant, it is evident that Kenya is way ahead on matters gender equality.
Nowadays, literally every home in Kenya would love to have educated daughters. Educating daughters in more recent times has stopped being seen as a waste of time. And educated women in our country, have gone ahead to do amazing things as evidenced by the likes of, Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, The Honorable Phoebe Asiyo and the first Kenyan woman judge, Lady Justice Effie Owuor among many others.
With changing times though and an over emphasis on vanity at the expense of intellect, an ever increasing number of young women, is no longer interested in being recognized for their extraordinary strides and contributions they have made to the society. This phenomenon is worsened further by the emergence of the socialite trend as well as the excessive glorification of celebrities.
Young women of this generation, whether educated or not, have been led to firmly believe that with the right looks and physique, then instant success will land at their doorsteps. Focusing on a specific area of specialization in their quest for success is dismissed as drab and uninspiring. This outlook has become deeply entrenched in the young women of today, that they do not imagine themselves taking up a venture that is considered for the “lower, uneducated class”.
It is evident in our country at the moment, that unemployment levels are particularly high. Most of the lecturers who taught me a couple of units in Campus, would occasionally encourage us not to anticipate for employment as soon as we graduated. Each one of us is gifted in certain areas and according to one Myles Monroe, we go to school to perfect our giftings. Our lecturers’ point was to utilize our giftings as well as the knowledge we have since acquired in school, to be able to gainfully employ ourselves.
But who wants to work so hard at self employment, when a sexy body, further perfected at the gym, numerous invitations to social events, a rich boyfriend as well as a horde of selfies on social media, can make you the money you would like to have. The society of recent years, teaches young women to exploit their vanity to their maximum benefit. It teaches young women that sitting behind a desk in the corporate world, driving the latest car model and living the good life is all that entails to be accorded the “successful” status.
Many young women have since ceased to exploit their talents. They would rather stay in uninspiring jobs than take up a business venture, that may need them to start low, may be unpredictable financially in the initial stages and may demand a lot of dedication from their part. Most of these successful entrepreneurs we see today started from somewhere. And if you follow up on their stories, they may have started from the lowest point that you could ever imagine. It only took a step of faith and zeal on their part, to be where they are today.
World leaders such as President Barack Obama and the likes, may ramble about the need for young women to be empowered and educated day and night, to no avail if at all the mentality is still the same. If young women are not willing to stop viewing other occupations as those reserved for the classless and uneducated in society. If young women want to take the easy route to success by using their bodies and looks to that effect. And if young women decide to pay attention to what other young women think of them.
As a young woman, I believe that the path to success starts when we are willing to focus on something we know we are good at, no matter how challenging it may seem. When we stop bothering with what society says about women in general. And when we open our minds to other different, possible prospects other than what is being portrayed to us as the trend.
Have a thoughtful week!