Gender vendors, nut crackers and fair liars

Our patriarchic societies have consistently subjected women to poverty, culturally dehumanizing practices and left them at the lower ebbs of society.

But since the 70s when Esther Bosurup made her ground breaking argument for women and challenged male dominance in the wider society, the issues of gender have become important.

Things are not any different in Ghana, a peaceful land where anyone could indulge himself or herself. Anyone can carve a niche for himself or herself, because it is a free country.

Make no mistake about it. And there are so many who have found for themselves professions and areas of specialization. Others have established for themselves fiefdoms and kingdoms and they are ruling. They are ruling their subjects both real and imaginary, with iron fists. People in these kingdoms live or die at the mercy of these rulers.

They have so much power to make or break any one they choose to, especially if you get in their way. In some cases too, they are the only ones in these fiefdoms where they are both the rulers and subjects. Isn’t it funny?

But you couldn’t laugh at them, because they don’t look funny. And they do not appear to be funny because they are not the only ones doing it. Like they say, ‘everyone is doing it’, until you are caught and exposed.

In a country where the majority of the population is female, it has become convenient to trade in gender matters. It would certainly be and it is the business with a bigger market. Why not? Issues of gender in a country like Ghana sells and you can take it international too.

So the gender vendors have lost no chance in capitalizing on the market and they are at it with skillful salesmanship. The smarter ones are knee deep into it.

But unfortunately, our caring, compassionate and industrious women whose plight has been so commoditized and monetized, in most cases to the benefit of the vendors have been relegated to the fringes of life. While their plight have been so touted and sensationalized to boiling point, the real issues affecting them receive little or no attention at all.

Please don’t ask me what the real issues are. Those who claim to have the answers to all our woes ought to know.

If you don’t believe me, just listen to all the ‘flaggers’ in town. They have all the answers! And they are making all the promises. But do they deliver? It is fair to lie in this game.

What seems to have been done so far for our women, are cosmetic attempts at resolving the real issues. Our women have simply received handouts and temporary relief. These handouts are mostly doled out on rooftops in the full glare of the whole world. But does it amount to anything?

Look, our women folk deserve much more than what we are doing for them in their name.
Unfortunately too, they did not mandate anyone to do this for them. The vendors simply usurped that right.

How can the group within the majority of a population that is mainly involved in agriculture be so emaciated by poverty so much so that they have all become nut crackers?

They work so hard and break their backs, but get little rewards for their labour.

A recent report by an international organization shows that Ghanaian women are poorer than their men folk.

But these women work the hardest. They feed the whole world, but they are starving.

Our women are the most marginalized and deprived. And you won’t believe this, but it is the truth. And those in the forefront of this injustice are most often women too. They profit from the plight of their kind.

While studies have shown that women together with their children produce about 80% of the staple food needs of the African continent, they receive only 10% of the income that is generated.

70% of all people employed in Ghana are in the agric sector and the majority of the people working in the sector are women. But why are they still so poor?

It is estimated that in some parts of Ghana, like in the north, about 30% of quality time that could have been spent in agricultural activities are used in gathering firewood, further increasing the circumstances of poverty and hunger.

But their own kinds are doing them in. They kowtow the men who have clout. Clout that they probably used subterfuge to acquire and then they become tin gods, whose biddings everyone must do, but whose failings no one must point out. Sometimes you do so at the peril first, of your source of earning daily bread, or in the most extreme cases, you end up in jail or you lose your life.

In this case, ‘fair is foul and foul is fair.’ They claim they have made the lives of our women better. Of course they have. They have made a few women prominent by giving them posts in which they have little influence and achieve ever so little for our women. So they have done a lot for our women.

They have perfected the concept of ‘Build Operate and Own’ (BOO). They own whatever it is they claim to have achieved for our women. And while they are at it, they make us believe our women deserve only small mercies.

We have come far in attempts to make life better for our women, but how far is far?

They go gallivanting around the globe and when they do, they even grovel before some mortals, who in some cases are less honourable than the most dishonourable of our kind. They tell them tales of distressing proportions, so they can make some little change. This change they purport would be used to heal the wounds the nut crackers have sustained in their efforts to make some semblance of a living to feed their children and clad their weary bodies. It is fair to lie sometimes, right?

Some even dare to label themselves gender activists. And they are mostly women too, with some men in the saddle. They trade in the plight of their fellow women, and they have become so successful in it that sometimes you wonder if they could ever live without this trade.

When would they stop lying to us and get to some serious and pragmatic business to make the lives of our women better. We are in the 21st Century please.

God save our women.

Authored by Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Email: edogbevi@hotmail.com