The tales of the negative effects of gender inequality narrated by two young African women from Burundi and Uganda

Ms. Kanezero Ciella Cardine 22years (Burundi) and Ms. Patricia Achieng 25years (Uganda)Young Female Leaders (YFL) of Central, Eastern and Northern and Diaspora Caucus of the Pan-African Network of Young Female Leaders (PANYFL) of The Amazon Leadership Initiative (TheALI).

We share our experiences as young, empowered and vibrant change makers and girl leaders on the effects of gender inequality.

Most girls and women and even men have no idea of the gender inequalities that happen in our society, because we have been socialized to see some things as normalcy. Well, here is a little insight.

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Gender Inequalities happen when people, men and women, boys and girls are discriminated against simply because of their gender. Socially, men and women are accorded different type and level of treatment based on their biological makeup, cultural norms and traditions and they can be biased towards a certain gender only to benefit them.

Some examples of gender inequalities we have seen to be most common are:

  1. Women having to work twice as hard just to attain the same recognition as men is one act that portrays gender inequality in our societies today.
  2. Employment and earning. We see in the news and reports of how women are paid less when compared to men for the same task done. Also, men are prioritized over women in opportunities, with belief that they perform more tasks or are more skilled than women, for example women are considered incompetent for engineering as a profession. This to us is a violation to our human rights as women and girls.
  3. Inheritance and ownership inequality. Many societies today hold the norm that female children cannot inherit property and should only have ownership of property in the case where no male is present in the family. Women are seen as properties themselves. Thus can ‘be owned’ by men. A good example is the tradition of wife inheritance in Eastern Africa.
  4. Inequitable access to education and health. When compared to boys, girls’ education is seen as a waste of resources let alone their health concerns. This accounts for the low level of education and poor health standards among women and girls.
  5. Stereotypes held in society that excludes women and from airing opinions and making decisions. Women and girls are meant to be seen but not heard.
  6. Masculinity has been associated with violence and physical strength. Societies see men as perpetrators of violence, and never the victims are another form of gender inequality against men. Thus, they do not report violence as society expects them to be strong and in control, therefore seemingly unbelievable that a woman can inflict harm physical or otherwise to a man.

The above-mentioned points need to be addressed to have a more equitable society. In addition, to quote Nurat Wamaya, TheALI young leader, Social Media and Engagement Associate and Coordinator, Central, Eastern and Northern and Diaspora Caucus stated that “Gender inequalities must be challenged.”

Kanezero Ciella Cardine (Burundi) shares her personal experience on the negative effect of gender inequality.

My experience with gender inequality was in my primary school days. My teachers exhibited a lot of discrimination when they preferred tutoring boys as compared to girls. In class, teachers had more interest in questioning and engaging with boys. Even when a girl tried out a sum, or gave an opinion, most teachers respected boys more than girls. This greatly impacted on my self-esteem (and that of other girls, I presume, now that I understand more about gender inequality). At some point, I wished I was a boy so that I could be accorded the respect and consideration from my teachers.

My performance of course was not to my full potential and so to help with the situation, my parents transferred me to another school, where I found support from other girls and more inclusive teachers. The change of environment assisted me to regain my confidence and my performance got better. To date, I still wonder about my other classmates? Did the girls ever get to live out their dreams? Were they ever respected and treated equally as the boys were? Do they understand when someone is discriminating against them or is it deeply entrenched in our thoughts and systems that we fail to notice? These are the questions I often ponder upon when I am alone.

Patricia Achieng (Uganda) shares her personal experience on the negative effect of gender inequality.

As the first daughter of my family, who had given birth to 4 girls in a row without any male child, gender inequality was my bitter pill to swallow for over 15 years coupled with my mother’s share of the gender inequality. As culture stereotypes it, male children are always a must have for every childbearing woman and failure to do so renders you questionable, my mother’s capability was lamented on severally by community and even relatives. But nonetheless I saw a focused woman ready to stand her ground and defend her daughters too, no matter the throws at her she steadfastly stood strong and with prayer, supplication, and submission to not only God but her husband as well, today she has a son to call her own.

In addition, my education was a struggle simply because of my gender. Close relatives believed my being in school was a waste because I would become someone’s wife someday therefore, I should not be educated in school. They believed that it is only boys who leave a positive impact on the family and as well stay back to take care of the home having every inheritance to carry on with a lineage.  Sailing through the ladders of education was easy regardless of these circumstances because of my determination to be an admirable young woman and to prove that women and girls are as well valuable. Even though I have not graduated from University, I see myself as an overcomer of the negative effects of gender inequality. I stand out as the first girl of my parents to study through to the university and I know very soon I will get my masters too.

It might seem as though gender inequality has not greatly affected me as I narrate my experience, the contrary is the case. As a result of the various opinions as to why I should not be educated, my father took me out of school after my ordinary level (S.4).  My father declared that I would not continue to advanced level (S.5&S.6). I challenged my father, and we all know what happens when you challenge an African father.

I got pregnant in the process but I am grateful that just like my mother, God came to my aid and I was able to ask my dad for forgiveness and get back into school. My dream of being an admirable woman still drives me to date even with the fact that I got pregnant while in school. Getting pregnant while in high school was never a barrier to me achieving my dreams. It has been seven years down the road with a daughter, yet I am still focused and pursuing that which is ahead of me because I know that my gender, color, family or being a single mother has absolutely no contribution to what I intend to achieve, “All I need is me” to be the person God intended me to be.

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