Gender Inequality: a cause for concern
Every individual in societies across the world yearns for equal status, opportunities and rights. A nation can only progress and attain higher developmental growth when both men and women are entitled to equal opportunities. Inequality based on gender is a serious concern in modern times the world over; men and women are yet to enjoy the same privileges.
In Sierra Leone, roles, responsibilities and opportunities are apportioned on the basis that an individual is a male or female. This clearly determines the behavior of a man or woman in the society.
There is a huge unequal treatment based on gender which demonstrates that men and women are not equal and such gender disparity constitutes hindrance in the growth rate of a country.
Women generally are the caregivers in the family. Because of this, women are mostly involved in domestic work which deprives them from pursuing higher education or taking active part in decision-making or leadership roles.
Gender inequality manifests itself in many ways such as unequal access to resources, power, education, discrimination in social, cultural and religious practices; the list may be endless, but the most important thing to look at is what causes gender inequality in Sierra Leone.
Women feel inferior and lack confidence in themselves. While growing up in the family right from the start boys are made to understand that they are superior. As children, job allocations in the house is done along gender roles. Boys will be involved in jobs considered as masculine while girls do feminine jobs.
One will hear remarks like ” do not cry like a woman” be a man. As if only women are supposed to cry.
Certain religions in Sierra Leone put women under men. The acceptance of polygamous marriage clearly speaks of inferiority.
According to Dr. Williette James, Head of Mass Communication Department at Fourah College, USL, “if a man can get married to four women then one man is equivalent to four women”, adding that Men take major decisions while women just accept.
Women have little or no access to factors of production like land, capital etc and do not have control over benefits. Sierra Leone is male oriented and inheritance of property like land goes to the boys/men. In some families where there are financial constrains the male child is sent to school while the female goes into early marriage.
Women are less represented in high political circles where serious decisions are taken. More political appointments are given to men.
Indeed, one cannot deny the fact that gender inequality is a great problem in Sierra Leone, which needs to be resolved because women are not weak and the biological makeup, psychological thinking and cultural norms should not determine one’s ability to do something.
When women participate in the workforce, the economic growth rate of the country increases.
By Samuella N Yokie
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