Africa is not a single nation as it is always perceived. Africa is a full continent with 54 countries (nations), with a vast variety of over 1000 languages, different strong cultures and people with different colour tones. It is saddening to listen to someone generalising Africa as a single state.
African countries are absolutely different from each other so if you visited South Africa, Egypt,Tunisia, Nigeria, or Kenya, this does not mean that you have enough information to generalise everything that goes on in Africa.
Women in Africa are different depending on which countries they come from, their way of dressing, behaving and their status in the society. In general, they are all African women and they are as strong as women elsewhere in the world besides the life experiences they have to go through.
Like anywhere in the world, women have fought for emancipation and they have at least got their rights thanks to the continuous amendment of laws in different countries, which enable women to strive towards sustainable rights like their male counterparts, even though much is still to be done.
WOMEN IN UGANDA
Uganda presently has a lot of women going through schools and climbing to big posts in government and in other job markets. Uganda had a female vice president from 1994 to 2003 and currently has a lady as a speaker of parliament who attended the last African day this year at Chamber of commerce here in Slovenia.
Uganda still has a woman as the head of Kampala Capital City Authority, It has had a lady as a commissioner general for Uganda revenue Authority for more than 10 years and after her flourishing work in that department she was assigned to head the investment authority. Every district in Uganda has a female representative in parliament (more than 100).
This shows that women have moved an extra mile and they are still moving forward. They have proved that they can perform so well in places they have been positioned and are still coming up to prove that they are not less or low performers at all. Women have build arcades in the middle of Kampala and they are doing business within and out of Uganda like any other business person out there.
According to culture strength and values in African countries Uganda included, men have to work hard for the ladies’ hand in marriage. In Uganda we have bride price and this depends on which side of the country the man is marrying from, North, South, East, West or Central Uganda. The ceremony of the bride price is different.
The bride price has been quite misrepresented or misinterpreted by a number of people who are not aware of the message behind it.
This is not a price parents sell their daughter for, I will emphasise that it is not at all. It is and has been a way of appreciation for a great upbringing of the wife to be by the groom. Besides the overexaggeration it now carries to show that the man has enough money, this bride price remains a cultural symbol in marriage and there is no set price but the man can bring what he can afford and is always helped by friends and family to manage the first marriage (traditional marriage).
We the Ugandans have had this cultural norm for long and is still going on however much we are emancipated. This does not mean a woman is lesser, it means that a man has a responsibility to take care of the family and the woman is there to have his back as he has hers. Women however much they earn or placed they are in job market, they all wait for that perfect time when they will have someone to ask for their hand in marriage. It is commonly said in the African proverb that “the pride of a woman is having a full pledged man by her side”. The thought of this causes some fear and panic in ladies who are over placed or who are very rich because there is nothing much a man can do to impress them, so they end up lonely or they chose a man, which is interpreted into a woman marrying a man instead of the other way round.
It is commonly said that “do not be over educated or acquire a lot of wealth before you are married or living with a partner, because you might fail to get one”. Many ladies must have heard that at a certain time, even if it is said jokingly, the message is always delivered. Girls therefore go through stages of school knowing that they either have to get a boyfriend or someone serious at a certain time in college and if they do not they might not find any. This rush has made some ladies to make bad choices and others to find perfect partners.
The picture that has been painted in the mind of every child demonstrating their responsibilities, has played a great role on who they become when they grow up.
According to culture and family background children are raised in a way to let them be able to take care of each other and prepared for the future.
In many families you will see a boy taking an upper hand in doing manual work and a girl doing the household and looking after the siblings. Children are taught chores at a tender age and this is not because parents are turning their kids into labourers but it’s an act of instilling responsibility, that if the elders are not around, the children will not starve or they are able to take care of themselves until the elders get back or help shows up.
However, even if some women are enjoying the freedom of emancipation, the same freedom has not yet reached every corner. Still a big number of women face family violence, they have to, in some cases, sexually sleep their way in some positions in the job market, they are dropping out of school because of early pregnancy, some parents have not yet realised the importance of educating a girl and they are forced into early marriages.
There is still lack of respect for women in many cases. For example, when a woman wears skimpy cloths in downtown Kampala, is bound to be undressed completely and there is nothing done to the culprits. Men have the audacity to spank the ass of the woman moving and a group of them can say all vulgar words towards her and there is nothing she can do to defend herself. The news are currently showing police violence in Uganda and how women are undressed and dragged on the ground by police men and women.
The awareness is apparent in some big cities and some small towns in Uganda but in rural areas women are not informed and they are not aware of their rights. A lot of children do not get a chance to attend school or to move beyond their villages and this goes to some grown ups, so they are not aware of anything going on in the country because they do not possess a radio or a television.
There is though hope, a lot of censorship to encourage educating girls, fight family violence and protect the rights of women. There is also a lot to be done to raise awareness and the government plus some private individuals are joining a fight to help women out there.
Author: Catherine Nakato. She comes from Uganda. Writes a blog xPlorCity, She recently started to co-present on Radio Študent on programme sunrise Africa. Loves fashion and is passionate about Meetups for business, culture and women empowerment.