By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
Progress for the African continent can only be fully achieved when governments prioritise the rights and roles of women in society.
Africa’s economy is greatly being driven by women because they form the majority working in the farms, in the trading sector, in the villages as well as labouring at home to ensure food on the table and protection of the family.
Unfortunately, women are still regarded by men as the weaker sex and their voices not expected to be heard when matters of the community are deliberated on, only when they are told to do so.
But in majority of homes in Africa, such as Sierra Leone, women are the power house. Under sun or rain these women and teenage girls throng the streets with all sorts of businesses to sell so that they could take care of their families while the men, mostly unemployed, rely on these women.
The super women of Africa have learned to survive the challenges as well as having the heart to love and be happy: making them perfect to be at the forefront of decision making processes.
The role of the African mother to her child and her community will ever be unique in the development of Africa, and for many of us this ‘deprived’ women are the one ones that empower us to be strong and survive the African terrain and challenges.
Unfortunately, in the face of international protocols, signed by Governments, to protect women and girls in society, violation and abuse against women and girls continued unabated and with impunity in most African countries.
Tradition and culture are being used to trampled the rights of women and in many African nations they are made to regard themselves as trading goods.
A degrading and disappointing situation that has denied the continent their meaningful contribution to society which might honestly represent the needs of the majority.
Women are the ones that feel the hardship at home, they grieve when the kid sleeps in hunger and are the most vulnerable. Their predicament is made worse when they may have to accept their fate as the husband chooses because tradition demands it must me so, and therefore their inability to determine how the household should be run.
And therefore the African mother/wife has to live in this vicious circle until fate determines her future.
Millions of women go through this situation and African governments know it is so, but are they acting to protect the rights of women and girls?
However, some may argue that Africa must maintain her culture and tradition, something I personally supported, but the practices that impede Africa’s growth and development must be eradicated for the betterment of millions of Africans now suffering because of such negative traditional beliefs.
Most traditional beliefs have denied women and girls opportunities to education and are made to live dependent lives and living as slaves in their supposedly matrimonial homes when those that tend to challenge the status quo are forced out of society.
For some of them, their desire to better themselves and to return back home to salvage their families landed them in the hands of human traffickers, they become victims of exploitation and forced into prostitution.
Their quest for better opportunities made them to venture into foreign lands where they become victims to their employers, but then will suffer in silence with only their tears to comfort them, and will move on, to earn money to send back home for loved ones.
Some of these are few of the aftermath of the lack of African governments to ensure equal opportunities for people.
It’s time women’s role in society is taken seriously and not only ‘white elephant’ activities to hoodwink the international community that something is being done.
Our women are girls are crying and want a change now.