Gender Mainstream: Participation of African Women in Education and Politics

Gender Mainstream: Participation of African Women in Education and Politics

Reginah Ndlovu (Midlands State University, Zimbabwe)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2815-0.ch003
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The study examines the extent to which gender has been mainstreamed in resource allocation, income opportunities, decision-making processes, policy development, planning, implementation, and monitoring of programmes in Africa. Zimbabwe is used as a case study. The study was prompted by the need for Africa to mainstream gender parity in order to respond to the global call of mainstreaming gender. International legal frameworks on gender are articulated in this chapter in order to bring about an understanding of the foundations upon which this global call is premised.
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This section gives the background of the study.

Gender inequality refers to unequal distribution of resources. It refers to unequal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men, girls and boys in all sectors- political, social, legal and economic.(Gender Analysis Draft Report 2014 p.1). Society assigns gender roles to men and women. Africa is entrenched in patriarchy and hence these roles are informed by this phenomenon. Although legislations have changed the traditional gender roles have not changed and this is attributed to patriarchy. Just because of power dynamics a woman cannot make important decisions which pertain to the family without consulting the husband

The distribution of gender roles in African societies is unequal. Women tend to have more responsibilities than men. (Ensure Gender Analysis Draft Report 2014, p.1x) states that,”…women wake up earlier than men and have little time to rest during the day while men have rest breaks and more time for socialisation during the day.”Women’s traditional chores involve washing, cooking and sweeping. In most cases they walk long distances to either look for water or fetch firewood. It is only on rare occasions that men would assist and whenever they come to assist they perform these duties with the assistance of scotch carts and wheelbarrows. Taking children to clinic as well as feeding them are tasks which are done by African women. Again women also have no control over major assets. These are in the husband’s name. As such they economically depend on their husbands. This has led to low ownership of property and other productive resources. More than six out of 10 women do not own a house (63%) or land (64%) (SADC Gender Protocol Barometer Zimbabwe 2015 p.8)

Africa as a continent is steeped in patriarchy. Men have been socialised to dominate all spheres of life. That is where they derive masculinity from. The traditions, way of life, customs and practices are drawn from socio historical factors. One can only understand women’s issues if he is guided by an African worldview. Oedema (2009,p.34) postulates that, “As an African the woman needs to be conscious of the content in which her feminist stance is made”. The researcher argues that as much as there are a lot of contributory factors to gender inequality, these can only be understood through the lens of African worldview.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Education: The process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.

Discrimination: Prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment.

Gender Parity: Concerns relative equality in terms of numbers and proportions of women and men, girls and boys.

Masculinity: A set of attributes, behaviours, and roles associated with boys and men.

Gender Mainstreaming: A strategy to achieve equality between women and men.

Patriarchy: A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is reckoned through the male line.

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