Simone de Beauvoir, one of the pioneers of feminist thought, argued that the economic independence of women would be the key to their independence from men and from society, thereby improving their living conditions.
The statement that “a woman self-determines and differentiates herself in relation to the man and not the latter in relation to her; she is the inessential compared in face of the essential. He is the subject, He is the Absolute: she is the Other” (Source: Only available in French)describes the oppression that women would suffer in a fundamentally patriarchal society that promotes the subjugation of women vis-à-vis men and the development of men to the detriment of that of women and which continues to perpetuate inequalities in social relations of sex.
The social construction of sex relationships would have generated inequalities between men and women by limiting the social role of women to the private sphere and by contributing to the construction of mentalities of sexualization of all possible functions, favoring men perceived as being best fitted to fight, lead, decide or change the world. That said, the evidence of the involvement of several women has made it possible to deconstruct the conception of sexualization which categorizes, in a directed manner, female or male aptitudes. Time alone has been enough to show to what extent the role of women, as much as that of men, constitutes an undoubted pillar for the proper functioning of society.
To support our statements about the evolution, change and slow deconstruction of the perception of women and their innate abilities, we cite as an example the Canadian Jennie Carignan who was the first female colonel in the Canadian armed forces. In June 2016, Colonel Jennie became the most highly ranked woman in the history of the Canadian Armed Forces because of her courage and persistence. It in turn proved that women, commonly identified as the “weaker sex,” are also capable of fighting and that they are as brave as men, in addition to being mothers and wives.
We recognize that while there have been advances registered for several years at a global level in terms of gender equality and accessibility of women to the job market, the gap between men and women in terms of labor market access remains visible with a global participation rate of men in the workforce of 75.8% against 47.66% of women in 2019.
Many women today have been agents of change in our modern societies. We cannot neglect the efforts of all the women who have directly or indirectly participated in the struggle for women’s rights and the improvement of their living conditions.
We pay tribute to Wangari Maathai of Kenyan origin who succeeded after several failed attempts to push her ideas forward but who managed to implant her contribution in Kenyan society in order to ensure food self-sufficiency for the poorest households through culture. Wangari Maathai would therefore have succeeded with the support of local communities and allied volunteers of the causes which she defended, in particular the protection of the environment, by planting more than 30 million trees.
We must cite this woman for her courage, determination and perseverance, given that she started from nothing and that she was going from trial to trial but all her efforts ended in triumph as she achieved a great project.
We salute the determination and the strength of all these women who decided to take their destiny in their own hands by choosing the path of emancipation through education, professional training, entrepreneurship, and more which today represent the engine of family economy and community more generally.
The emancipation of women also aims at their personal development, which is inevitably linked to equal redistribution, according to the sexes, of domestic work. In addition to this is the need for a sort of rehabilitation that aims at bringing complementarity of responsibilities between men and women in the private sphere (domestic). That would in turn decrease the weight and feminine mental load which would therefore favor the development of women in both the public and private (domestic) spheres.
We will not go so far as to say that the struggles, for the improvement of the living conditions of women, engaged for more than a century have led to expected results. However, we must admit that the patriarchal society of two hundred years ago is not the society we live in today. Certain taboos are no longer admitted as such because women have proven more than once that they were capable of much more than strict housework.
Part 3 will address the relationship between women empowerment and Christian beliefs.
By Fariji Niyo