African women are often portrayed as poor and oppressed. But more and more African women are fighting: for their rights, for peace and democracy. Some see themselves in the tradition of warriors - like the famous Amazons of Benin. But what does reality look like? Back from Africa, I think of the self-confident African women and their lives.
Woman instead of education
A better future for girls through a good education - that is still the wish of only a few parents. Most girls are raised for a future in another family. Once they marry, they become part of the husband‘s family and are not allowed to visit their former home without permission.
This tradition is in decline, but women still have a subordinate role in society. Her place is at home doing chores. They weave, sew or work growing vegetables and selling them at the market. Many children grow up with this experience.
The level of education determines everything
The level of education in the family determines everything. If the mother is educated and has a good job, then she will have a different attitude towards life in society. Women hope that such a change in mentality is only a matter of time. In many West African countries there is a growing number of middle-class families. The level of education is very high and the chances of emancipation are increasing.
But education is also a question of the school system. The basics taught in school often have a lifelong effect. That is why educational politicians have a responsibility and must question traditions and, if possible, abolish them: „In textbooks, housework is presented as women‘s work and everything that has to do with offices or intellectual work as men‘s work.“ This is a real hurdle on the way to equality of man and woman, not only in Africa.
The fear of poverty
The traditional gender roles in African societies are an important issue. And this includes – against the background of growing poverty – the widespread phenomenon of the “tontons”: young women go out with rich, mostly married men – in the hope that he will pay for it. This made them feel financially secure, even if they were unsuccessful in an apprenticeship. An „Economic-Sexual Exchange“.
In a number of countries, the „tontons“ are a typical expression of this practice. The girls introduce the men as „uncles“. There are economic reasons, because the „Tontons work“ and have more money than 20-year-old young men. They believe that older men are less likely to be infected with HIV than young men because otherwise they would already be dead. But the roots lie deeper, say sociologists: „Many young women have the predisposition to behave like this through their socialization.“ she protects.
Young, well-educated women could change that because they have the opportunities. They could do without the undignified „tonton chaos“ if they only wanted to. Instead of conjuring up impending poverty and accepting it as fate, they should question themselves and consider how they can take responsibility for their own lives without falling into the Tontons trap.
Der Artikel wurde im September 2023 in „The Wallcreeper“ vom Autor veröffentlicht.