21st CENTURY WOMEN VS TRADITION
By: Zukiswa Ndaba
Throughout history women have been perceived to be the weakest of mankind. Their fate was nothing more than to bear children, raise them and run a household.
This is observed across the world. This is why in the past only a few women were recognised in society. But times changed and so have the roles and positions held by women in society.
In the 21st century, the generation that strives for gender equality has seen impressive shift in traditional dynamics and greater recognition of gender in legislation has helped pull apart gender-role divisions.
As a result women are far more economically independent and socially independent, representing 50.
16 % of women own projects in construction, 10% in mining and 26. 3 % of women in executive manager and director positions (as of 2011 Stats SA final report of the Status of Women in South Africa).
However, tradition limited women’s abilities within households. In the Zulu tradition and other African traditions, women were forbidden from studying because of the belief that they won’t go any further than getting married and bearing children.
“My father told me that taking a female to school is waste of money because education won’t do much for her as she will be raising kids,” said Vuyelwa Maduna, an uneducated single parent.
Maduna added that she has worked her sweat out to make sure that all her three kids get proper education.
Culture has shrinked women, made them feel inferior to men. Culture says “women are subjected to men”.
“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be, rather than recognising how we are. Culture does not make people, people make culture, so if it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, than we should make it our culture,” said Chimamanda Ngozi.
Adichie, an author and a lecturer who calls herself a feminist, has observed many incidents of gender inequality and highlighted a few in her speech that was titled, ‘We should all be Feminists’.
“Men are generally stronger than women. Literally, men rule. This made sense a thousand years ago because it was a world that required physical strength for survival. The physically stronger person was more likely to lead. But today we live in a vastly different world, the person who is more likely to lead, is not the physically stronger person but it’s the more creative person, the more intelligent and innovative person,” she said.
Samukele Ndzimande, a 2nd year Interior Design student says that as an African male theoretically it is not normal for him to take instructions from a female.
“Simply because of my surroundings and the way I was brought up. I had to be outdoors 70% of my daily life than the sisters who were indoors 70% of their time doing chores. But nowadays society has shifted. Daughters drink like their fathers and sons pamper themselves with make-up. The sad part is that, a son will someday turn up to be a father and a daughter will turn up to be a mother,” said Ndzimande.
Today there are many opportunities for women than they were in the past due to change in policies and legislature, which is very good. But what matters even more is our attitude, our mindset, what we believe in and what we value about gender. Because today, women can now stand up to men, stand in front of them and lead.