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WOMEN EMANCIPATION: AN ONGOING PROCESS

‘’I would also like to quote Emma Goldman when closing this first chapter. Every movement that aims at the destruction of faulty existing systems and the replacement thereof with something more advanced, has followers who in theory stand for the most radical ideas, but who, nevertheless, in their every-day practice, are like the average Philistine, feigning respectability and clamouring for the good opinion of their opponents.’’

Women emancipation is the effort to secure equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions, and behavioural patterns. Nelson Mandela once said, ‘’Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression’’ This freedom is the basis upon which the mass and the individual, the true democrat and the true individuality, man and woman, can meet without antagonism and opposition.


The Former Way Of Thinking

The former way of thinking, in terms of which women were relegated to second place, continued unchallenged for centuries.3 The social norms have kept women in a shell for decades and in some cases has silenced the voice of a woman, leading to very few women self-actualizing. Self-actualization is a term that has been used in various psychology theories, often in different ways. The term was originally introduced by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldsteinfor, as the motive to realize one's full potential. Expressing one's creativity, quest for spiritual enlightenment, pursuit of knowledge, and the desire to give to and/or positively transform society are examples of self-actualization.

The Then and Now...

The difference with the 21st century is that both male and female have same expectations about life professionally and at home. Gender diversity and inclusion are therefore no longer a female issue, it is everyone’s issue. How can we have a conservation when a number of male listen to defend the system the minute one brings the issue of women empowerment or equality? These patterns are however not abstract theory but do have a historical background, a genesis which is interrogated in the paragraphs that follow.
The women's rights movement began in the nineteenth century with the demand by some women reformers for the right to vote, known as suffrage, and for the same legal rights as men. The psyche of democracy that has been embraced in the digital age makes us to think that freedom means no control, whereas freedom means being free to be your authentic self-irrespective of gender, to self-actualize from the soul.  

Our Journey and History...

To do justice in this section we will have to first dissect the history of Socio-economic landscape of my country, South Africa in order to understand the opposition and antagonism to gender equality. In 1867 diamonds were discovered in Kimberly and gold in 1886 in Witwatersrand. This discovery made a huge change in the developing South African economy and socio status of the country. Black men left their families to come and work in mines in Kimberly and Witwatersrand. They were more of the cheap labour force and with no shares in these mines. Black women were then left at home raising up children. This dissembled the family structure of most black families as the head of the family was not at home almost for 6-12 months and in those days communication was difficult. We started to see the rise of children born outside marriage as these black males will start a new family in the city. Although black women were left alone it was a taboo for them to start new families. This socio status set a trend or was the foundation of segregated black families. This is one of the inheritance that South Africa received from this system.


Also we see this trend of women taught to stay in their place in the political landscape as it was reserved for few. The Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 had decimated the South African economy and left a deep divide in society, not only between black people and whites, but between Boer and British. Africans had aligned themselves with the British during this war, in the vain hope that after peace was signed they would be given a better deal. Instead the British had made some effort to reconcile with the Boers after these tribes war and ignored the claims of the Africans. A new white-controlled government was set up in 1901 and called the Union of South Africa. In this new government, white females were neither allowed to vote nor participate in politics. As the reader I hope by now you have gathered how a black female received a double share in this injustice, for being black and for being a female. This is not a story that embraces and accepts victimisation but rather a story of empowerment, a story of understanding our history in order to thrive in our future. This then takes us back to my first argument and that is ‘’Women emancipation is still an ongoing process.

Let us now dissect the African National Congress (ANC). It was formed in 1912 and women were not accepted as members of the Congress. It was at the epic of the struggle in 1943 that Black men realized the need to unite politically to form a common front against white oppression inclusive of women. Similarly, as previously mentioned white South African women were not permitted to play any part in political decision-making in a male-run Union government. It was only in 1930 that white women gained the right to vote. This law was only grudgingly passed, by an all-male, all-white parliament, after a concerted 20-year campaign by dedicated feminists. It has been said that feminist were angry people who want to fight men. I am not sure how anyone can be a merry or be an excited person when their rights are violated, yes they were supposed to be angry and there is nothing is to be ashamed of that. Assata Shakur, once said, ‘’Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them. No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. I would also like to quote Emma Goldman when closing this first chapter. Every movement that aims at the destruction of faulty existing systems and the replacement thereof with something more advanced, has followers who in theory stand for the most radical ideas, but who, nevertheless, in their every-day practice, are like the average Philistine, feigning respectability and clamouring for the good opinion of their opponents. To be continued… Author: Dr Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye. Next blog to be out on this topic end of January 2019 …Beautiful Festive season.

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