Culture is both the best and worst thing that happened to the African woman of today. Societal expectations both spur her on and hold her back. She is told the sky is only the beginning; that she can go as far as she can see but in her bid to do so, finds a glass ceiling. She is then told that she must have all the boxes on a checklist ticked before she could go any further. Like the telco ads say, ‘Terms and Conditions apply.’
The African woman is allowed to be ambitious but should be a notch lower than the man’s so people don’t see her as displeasing. She can be assertive as much as she wants but should accept the man’s words as final. The media would rather praise her for her physical strengths first before mentioning her intellectual abilities whiles her male counterpart gets a straight-to-the-point acknowledgment about his achievements.
“You are beautiful,” used to be an ear-pleasing compliment to hear but it’s strangely becoming a criteria for qualification for her. This sad reality makes her feel her brains are not enough to get her the positions she has prepared herself for unless she is bold enough to expose some vitals and downplay her intellect and resort to being a flirt.
She is considered incomplete and lagging behind at best when she is single and regarded as cursed and spiritually troubled at worst. She is then concluded to be irresponsible and unsubmissive when found out to be divorced without finding out the back story.
Her suggestions may earn some nods around the table but would only be considered plausible when reiterated in a male voice. Her success story is mostly met with speculations about how wide she must have spread her legs to get as far as she had.
Today’s African woman knows what she wants and where she wants to get to and needs no one to lend his deep male voice to have her intentions heard. She hasn’t unlearned how to show respect because of exposure to higher learning; she has come to realize that respect is to be earned and not demanded.
She knows that she is deserving of equal conditions of service and remuneration as her male colleague since they gained employment by the same scale of qualification. Being exploited is not synonymous to humility just as ambition does not equal pride especially in the 21st century.
She doesn’t spend long hours at work because she considers her family as a secondary matter but because she wants the very best for her children and needs to join forces with her partner to provide for the family.
Today’s African woman is strong, determined, passionate, intelligent and beautiful in soul. If only the world would give her enough room to rise, she will give all she is to help make the world better than we hope to see it become.
© Josephine Amoako 2017