A woman’s place at the table!
The woman is the heart of the home. Let us pray that we women realize the reason for our existence: to love and be loved and through this love become instruments of peace in the world. This is one of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa when I think about the role of women in society. Many a times this role has unfortunately been misunderstood to mean women are the stronger specie. If women were the stronger specie, why do we have despicable statistics about domestic violence occasioned by men? Why is the average income of women world over much lower than that of the men? Why do we at all still advocate for more women to be invited into spaces in the name of gender balance? What exactly does this strength represent if not a tool of power? So I understand when Mother Teresa says a woman is the heart of the home. She is the home maker. She keeps the house warm. She cooks the food, cleans the house, minds the children, washes and irons her husband’s clothes. In all this, the husband is only expected to provide an income for her to do everything else. Indeed, she is the heart of the home. What however rattles me is why the heart of the home, a role I think to be one of great importance, is also the most abused.
The Bible story of Queen Esther is one that intrigues me about the role of a woman in society. Before King Ahasuerus married Queen Esther, he had Queen Vashti for a wife. He had a banquet in his palace and invited all his friends to feast. During the feast he wanted to show off his beautiful wife, Vashti to his drunk friends but she declined to come. Consequently, the King divorced Queen Vashti for her disobedience and married Queen Esther. What I imagine about the untold parts of this story is that probably the King was very drunk following the many days he had been feasting. Queen Vashti to protect her dignity did not want to be disgraced before his already drunk guests. Or she was embarrassed about the King’s behavior and did not want to be a part of it. For all intents and purposes, Queen Vashti was expected to entertain her husband’s guests. When she fell short of this, she was immediately banished and replaced. This story is like so many other narratives about the expectations placed on women by the world. In Hollywood, so many scandals have been recorded about sexual harassment against women. The ‘Me Too’ movement unearthed so much about the predatory environment that women in Hollywood were living in and yet desperate to ‘shine’ in the industry. In a matter of days, many more women all over the world were empowered to speak out on the manipulation and abuse they faced in their own lives.
Take the example of Harvey Weinstein, a film producer in Hollywood, who was accused by at least 80 women, of numerous rape, assault and sexual abuse committed over a period of 30 years. One man accused by 80 women! It is really absurd that women can be treated like this and they are still upheld as the ‘heart’ of anything. A heart should be tendered, warmed and wooed for it to stay healthy. It is very sad that even with all the responsibilities placed on women, they remain endangered rather than celebrated. I hope for a world where the International Women’s Day will translate positively into the lives of all oppressed women out there. A day when power will change into the hands of women. A day when the strength of women will be seen in the political space and all spaces of power.
In Uganda today, I love that women are proving their worth and being appointed to high offices by virtue of their integrity and passionate energy. I salute all women in Uganda specifically, in these spaces, giving hope to other women and young girls that the future could truly be female, to wit; Sharon Nakhanda an International Human rights lawyer and leading expert in International Criminal Court trials for prosecution of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels; Susan Namuganyi, the first drilling engineer and best student throughout her academic years; Brigitte Kusiima and Hellen Nakiryowa, the first female lawyers to earn partner at Shonubi, Musoke & Co. Advocates after 30 years of the firm’s existence; Esther Kalenzi founder of 40 Days Over 40 Smiles an NGO focusing on the less fortunate, Nuns that run Sanyu babies home, Charlotte Mudoola in the world of sport, Maris Wanyera the Director Debt and Cash Policy at Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Sr. Cephas Cormack responsible for character building of many women in the Education sector.
In the highly patriarchal societies of Northern Uganda where women are at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts; not to mention the strong cultural practices and barriers, I applaud the works of different developments such as SPACE project under Development Initiative for Northern Uganda implemented through the Office of the Prime Minister that are geared towards all aspects of women empowerment. If we continue demeaning the importance of women, we shall destroy the fabric of society and this has a ripple effect.
I implore all women to strive to become whatever they want to!
Happy International Women’s Day!