Men should honor their Valentines by fighting for women’s rights

Posted on February 13, 2013 01:20 pm

Contador Harrison grew up in Collingwood at the height of racial discriminations, women’s rights and gender equality movements. My mother, a black, was working as a consultant although her salary was far less to her whites counterparts. She is a woman and a mother who taught me that doing the dishes, laundry and other domestic activities as male, should not be a silly personal issue but rather a solid foundation for my future. That future came thirteen years ago. I have nothing but praise to my mom. She brought me up as a multi tasking lad way long before the name became synonymous with the general population. I recalled those days with pride when I met a personal friend working with United Nations and we spend time in his living place having coffee. He deliberately started a conversation on why I am not married and what plans I had for Valentine day. In a swift reply, I was clear that I can do what a woman can so, It’s not a necessity for me to have wife. I told him that Valentine is a just a hyped day by gluttons masquerading as business community and will spend it in my own style.

The forty plus years old man was not amused and he rudely called me a slave of modern society. My friend who has a well paying job does not live with his wife. Unlike me, he eats in hotels and drinks all his salary. I am the opposite. I don’t eat in hotels unless am away from my place. It’s outright laziness that any sane person should not practice. Perhaps, am jealous I can’t afford that lifestyle. According to his story, he has a wife back home in Turkey and whenever he visits them he can’t do anything beyond taking shower, eating and drinking. Just like those who have debated with me knows, when I have facts at hand I always pin down the opponent. In my friend case, I was prepared to test how liberal he is. I raised a topic that a couple’s should equally share of household chore duties as an indication of gender equality in 21st century society and he blankly stared at me despite him being professionally successful expat.

To avoid antagonizing our friendship, I switched off the topic to global economy and what G20 must do to tackle the tax evasions by multinationals at the end of this week. Back to women rights, married me don’t have to do the dishes like Contador Harrison. Unfortunately, for those who feel posh to do so must know there is a cliché that says behind every man’s success there is a woman. Married or unmarried men or women need back up support from someone to enable them to achieve self-realization and pursue career advancement like is the case with my UN staff friend. My own analysis shows that married men get it from their wives while bachelors like me get it from female or male friends. Luckily, we have no limitations and can get support from all corners of the society unlike confinement that married men or women goes through.

It annoys me to see societies that have cultural and social expectations that fall on young females getting married at tender age and that means they cannot pursue their careers smoothly without meeting domestic demands. Those who will be celebrating Valentine are the lucky few and if your married or not married but has plans for the day, spare a thought for those who will not be celebrating because of either social, traditional or cultural commitments. The proportion of women in senior management still remains a thorny issue in many developing and developed countries. I attribute this unequal educational opportunities and cultural factors facing our women. Education and cultural openness are factors that will help bridge the gaps that currently favor male counterparts. It pleases me to see successful women because apart from creating jobs by employing house maids, who take care of the mess that makes it easier for such women to chase their dreams.

In case of my mother, she did not have to shoulder the double workload that comes with double sexual standards and never confronted the patriarchal values that oppress women as a whole. Those women who are not so lucky, they do not feel appreciated by the society and ‘illegal’ read the husbands employers despite the fact that they work in homes as mothers and to an extent as carers of their elderly relatives and their so called well paid husbands gives them no economic value and have continued to take them for granted in what I would call a ‘free service wives’. Most house wives suffers from gender exploitation, sexual harassment and in some instances have been forced to abortion and even raped. Just like those white collar jobs employees, house wives and house helps need a day off each week and overtime pay, annual holidays, and paid sick leave.

I do urge those who will be celebrating Valentine day, to remember that those back home need your help in tackling the belief that house helps and house wives have little economic value in the society as compared to those who successful women who pay taxes, drive fuel guzzlers and adore St Valentine day. I will celebrate my Valentine with a book and donating to Non Governmental Organizations that fight employers who breach the global standards laws on working hours and conditions as well as minimum wage for our women. If we all supported our women, we shall create a new value and a refusal to be taken for granted. Such a move could enable women rights to be respected and more of them will seriously think about cultural values that put them down. If real change in our women’s roles is going to start somewhere, it is starts with you this Valentine. I wish all my friends and families a Happy Valentine Day tomorrow.

Contador Harrison