Edwina’s address for International Women’s Day

I greet you all my brothers and sisters, today is the day the beautiful women of our parish chose to mark this year’s International Women’s Day.  As we know this year’s theme is captioned “Breaking The Bias”. There are loads of bias/stereotypes against women that have become part and parcel of our everyday life in the society.

How do we break the bias?

In 1 Corinthians 11:22 it says, ” Nevertheless in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman”. this being the case, breaking the bias is going to be a collective action. It’s not going to be women doing it alone but men are seriously going to be at the forefront this time.

In our Homes;
The way in which we bring up our children matters a lot. When we segregate household chores amongst our male and female children, we are faning the flames of bias. Do we assign boys chores like washing cars, mowing the lawn or painting while our girls are asked to do the cleaning, cooking, or domestic chores? We should not teach our children that they are expected to take on different roles based on their gender. A father who takes on active roles in childcare or domestic chores positively influences his children as this helps the boys to become better brothers, friends, husbands, and fathers to girls/women which at the same time, helps to boost the self-esteem of girls/young women. Let’s break the bias that says a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

In our relationships;
-as family (husbands and wives/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend) The way a father /boyfriend treats their significant other(s) do impact negatively or positively on their audience-children.   When a man belittles his wife/girlfriend/mother of his kids in front of the kids, you inculcate in your male children that women are to be treated like that, you sacrifice your girls on the alter of self-loathing.  Build a home that your daughters thrive in and pray to have when they grow up, a home where your wife does not tremble at your voice, or cower in the corner at your presence. Build a home where your sons learn that women are to be cherished , loved and  respected. Be the boyfriend or husband who protects his girlfriend/wife from his brothers/sisters and from any other person. While watching tv with your children, help break the bias by not body-shaming women you see on tv,  deviate from watching programmes that portray women/girls as objects to be possessed, empathise when you see girls or women being maltreated, refrain from speaking ill of your wife, girlfriend, or women in general before your kids. Let your sons learn respect for women from you. A good man not just a good woman builds a home too.

Career Paths;
The word “Brilliant” is seen as a male trait, and this has contributed  immensely in holding women back for a long time now. This is prevalent in developing societies where you hear things like ” what do you know”?, “You don’t have what it takes to  study medicine, law or engineering”. Thus,making young women to settle for courses or careers they never wanted. Most science courses,Engineering and even Law are seen as more suited for young men. Even in the field of sports, how many of our fathers here encourage their daughters to venture into sports that are believed to be men’s field? Let’s change the narractive and break the bias.

At our work places;
Do we relate with our female work colleagues as team mates or put them in their place as “females”?  More often than not young women are exploited when they come seeking for jobs in some establishments, even when they qualify for some positions they are asked to use what they have to get what they want. Are they allowed to be heard or just be seen doing their jobs.How have we supported our female colleagues in their quest to become managers or directors when they are suited or qualified for such positions? Do their opinions count in decision making or we still hold the view that Women should be seen not heard?

Devaluation of Women;
In most developing societies and even around us in some homes, women are devalued and seen as below men. We hear phrases like “it’s a man’s world” all the time. Women are fasely believed to be created just for a man. It is this false belief that created room for FGM, Forced Marriages, Sexual violence towards women…(a woman many a time is forced to yield herself to her husband/man whether she wants it or not) Physical,Mental and Emotional abuse to women as well as Financial abuse. In our society today most women are not allowed to make use of or be in charge of the money they earned, it’s always the husband who controls how a woman’s money should be spent. There are cases where a man imposes on a woman  the size of family/children he wants the woman to have regardless of her health or even her preferences.

Lack of Self-Love, self-confidence:
The society tends to set a standard for how women should view themselves; we are so caught up in what is expected of us that we fail to pause and look after ourselves. We can’t break the bias when we as women hold on to the false belief that our happiness lies in the hands of a man. Woman, you are good enough, you are smart enough, you are beautiful enough, you are that unique masterpiece without which God’s creation would have been incomplete.

Go get that qualification you yearn for, apply for that job, strive for the best, be that good example to your daughters and other young women, stand up for them and  speak that truth at all times.

The job of breaking the bias rest in our hands; everyone of us here is born by a woman regardless of the circumstances surrounding our births. I strongly believe we all have been blessed at some point in our lives by a woman. We had/have sisters, female cousins, aunts, grandmas, daughters, girlfriends, wives, daughters, course-mates, flatmates, female teachers, doctors, engineers, health workers, drivers, and many others who have played important roles in our lives. Today, I plead with us all to join in the fight to eradicate some of the negative stereotypes or biases we have against women. Above say a prayer for women instead of castigating them.

Thanks and God bless us all.

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