More often than not, African women are usually fitted into a glass ceiling of ideals and customs of what is expected of them. This glass ceiling has been unbreakable for generations. However, this new generation has shattered the barrier of what a woman can and cannot do.
Unlike the other gender, a woman is often blamed for her misfortune. A society where what is required of a woman is to breed children, take care of the husband, and have no personal ambition of her own! This was what was expected in the early 90s but things have steered in a whole new direction. Since the early years, women have fought to sit at the same table with men, they have had to fight for equality for decades and their voices and cries have finally been heard.
The western media have always had a narrative on how to portray African women. These so-called vultures who capitalize on African culture hardly ever portray African women to their fullest potential. They have an atrocious description of how African women should be perceived. They are mostly seen as sexual creatures, domestic workers, and oppressed women with no mind of their own.
For over four decades the female gender was not allowed to have or air their opinions, they were not permitted to have standard education and were not even considered proper human beings. African women have suffered greatly in the past years – one of their major traumas being the erroneous belief that a man beating a woman up is the only way to earn respect from her.
The trauma, unfortunately, is not limited to women alone as the average female African child could be subjected to child marriage, teenage pregnancy, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and prostitution. 1 out of 3 women has experienced a form of assault whether it is being grabbed inappropriately, marital rape, intimidation at workplaces or educational institutes, forced abortion, forced pregnancy, rape, sexual harassment, or receiving lewd looks for just being a woman.
According to statistics, an alarming rate of about 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime. Having this kind of information over your head isn’t a safe space to be mentally. Malicious rapists and uncultured men view African women as property. It is no news that an African woman enters into marriage with the idea of being seen as the property of the husband. Disappointing stereotypes like this affect how women view themselves. These stereotypes make women believe they will be nothing without the help or assistance of the male gender. They have grown up seeing themselves as the weaker gender which makes them stay silent when a crime is committed against them in fear of embarrassment and exile from their social status.
Despite all, we are grateful that the new generations of African women are breaking boundaries and barriers, with the likes of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala being elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Her new position has made high positions like this seem attainable in the eyes of young African women and made it known a woman’s potential or success isn’t limited by age.
The ever-inspiring Bonang Motheba launched an incredible bursary fund to assist the South African girl-child to pay their tuition fee for tertiary institutions. Great opportunities like this make access to education easy.
Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie shared her undivided opinion on how we should all be feminists. She also made an impact with her implausible work on Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun.
We cannot forget the beautiful and unbelievable stunning actress Lupita Nyong’o and international model Adut Akech who showed how possible it is for young African women to win globally recognized awards. Achievements like this have broken the barriers to which African women have been placed.
In 2021 alone, seven distinguished women were made the CEOs and MDs of top banks in Nigeria. These positions are usually held by men and it is a beautiful thing to see women leading such a vast industry.
This is a call to young African women that no dream is too difficult to come to pass and no position is too high to attain. Barriers are meant to be broken!
Written by: Esohe Braimah
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.