Author of the book Nervous condition, Tsitsi Dangarembga once wrote “This business of womanhood is a heavy burden. How could it not be? Aren’t we the ones who bear children? When it is like that you can’t just decided today I want to do this, tomorrow I want to do that, the next day I want to be educated! When there are sacrifices to be made, you are the one who has to make them. And these things are not easy; you have to start learning them early, from a very young age.”
For many centuries, traditionalist always believed that women are inferior and males are superior thus women should always learn to listen and obey to their superior half and not opposing them or else they have to face the consequences.
Gender equality emerged towards the end of the 18th century when there was a growth of wealth and social advancement enabling some females to educate themselves, later becoming either a writer or artist. The French revolution of 1789 unleashed radical ideas in many parts of Europe, and in England inspired Mary Wollstonecraft to write the classic Vindication of the Rights of Women (1972). Sadly, during the 19th century, gender inequality reemerged due to the traditionalist belief of women in the society and by the mid 19th century, many countries showed a slow progress in improving female statuses in the society.
Towards the 20th century, many females have played vital roles in shaping the local and international society namely Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde, Aung San Suu Kyi and Margaret Thatcher.
In some countries, women are still lacking in some elementary rights such as getting an education, professional obstacle, limited mobility (e.g. some countries prohibit females from driving or riding bicycle), getting the blame for the violence, feticide and infanticide (e.g. some cultures prefer having a boy as opposed to a girl), restricted land ownership, feminization of poverty (e.g. female have no rights to own land, therefore they cannot become an entrepreneur leaving them living below the poverty line), access to health care, freedom to marry or divorce and political participation.
Sadly, some countries still practice gender inequality; these include traditional female genital mutilation. Some believe that this is not a gender inequality situation, however females are mutilated without their consent nor were they willing to accept such practices. UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and spokesperson on female genital mutilation, Waris Dirie was forced to undergo such act when she was five years old.
In 2012, WHO claims that Female Genital Mutilation is practiced within 28 countries, these include western and eastern, and north-eastern Africa, in parts of the Middle East, and within some immigrant communities in Europe, North America and Australasia. An estimated 100-140 million women and girls (ages from a few days after birth to 15) around the world have experience such act with the majority coming from Africa, a staggering 92 million.
Thus the question still remains “when will females be free?”