It is Aung Sang Suu Kyi who said, “In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.”
There is no truer statement about the relations between sexes in society than these words said by this woman who had to sacrifice her freedom for women’s political emancipation and made history.
Men who are socialised from birth to be the powerful race, need to believe in that. Although the jury is still out on that one, even if it is proven a lie, because it is a lie that boys have been told and forced to live, they urgently need to fully believe in it so we can all continue with our lives in peace. In peace, because then men will not have to assert their power every chance they get. Husbands will not have to beat up their wives just so they can prove that they are the heads and strangers will not feel the urge to rape as a form of exercise of power.
While we wait for that, the world needs women who will take some pearls of wisdom from Florence Nightingale and not waste their feelings in words. They should distill all their feelings into actions bearing results.
The sooner women realise that what is going to get them the freedom they deserve, is not just sharing their problems with the women from the prayer group. While they pray for peace and discernment, they should also be hoping for a revelation- what is normally called an epiphany in secular language.
When they have this, they will realise, just like Rosa Parks, that what is needed is for somebody to take a step. From this realisation, they will then do what is expected of them. Rosa Parks did not give up her seat in the bus and that was her step.
But the challenge is that most women believe that men are powerful and strong more than the men believe this. It appears that they have no faith in the words of George Sand, “You can bind my body, tie my hands, govern my actions: you are the strongest, and society adds to your power; but with my will, sir, you can do nothing.” Sadly, most women fear resistance.
They feel that the status quo can never be effectively challenged without resistance. Women are afraid to act because they are not ready to give up being accepted by society.
Margaret Thatcher was speaking the gospel when she said, “If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”Perhaps women have been compromising so much in our time such that the gains made in the struggle against their oppression are under threat or maybe even reversed.
When women are aware of the burden they carry on their shoulders, they become prepared to give the struggle their all and consolidate what has already been achieved. At this point, with the global environment placing so many new demands on women, there is no room for slip-ups just like it was the case during Billie Jean King’s The Battle of sexes match.
She is recorded to have said that she had to give it her best because she thought to herself that her losing the match would set women 50 years back. It would have ruined the women’s tour and affect all women’s self-esteem. This is the honour women in leadership carry in their voices, choices and actions today.
Ignoring bias and the surrounding debate, women from time immemorial have been conferred titles of care-givers, collaborators, peacemakers and communicators and today, this could be the reason why women stand better chances of leading the world.
Although the carefully constructed intention promoting these titles was meant not to decorate women and to trivialise their importance, the new global demands seem to be celebrating these traits which we were indoctrinated to see as feminine.
For a very long time, the cards were stacked in favour of the so-called ‘masculine’ behaviour with a plethora of big, masculine, cumbersome hierarchical structures based on power, competition, winning, and aggression.
The world is changing and yet these structures are not doing a thing to adapt. On the other hand, the words of the great women in the history of the world are proving to be more relevant. This is the evidence we need to prove that women have just become more relevant. What was seen as feminine and weak skills and qualities are the strengths that are needed in today’s world to face global challenges such as globalisation and feeding an increasing population.