In Summary
  • A bill was tabled and read in Parliament to amend the Constitution and give full effect to article 81(b).
  • The solution seems sensible. But are we resolving the issue of discrimination against women in the professional world or is this just a way to quieten our conscience by increasing undemocratic representation in an already saturated parliament?
  • The matter is complex because democracy does not seem to be compatible with the affirmative quota agenda. Democracy is about choice and we would be limiting that choice, for a good reason, but limiting it anyway.

"This is a men’s world," said a prominent female judge when she narrated to the audience how, in her campus days, a senior teacher approached her asking for sexual favours. She told him off and stood her ground. She knew she was risking a lot, and would probably fail the subject.

For years, the disgrace of discrimination against women has been too obvious in our society. From birth till death, women are often judged by men’s standards of productivity, power, financial success and independence. Less drums sound when they are born, and the boy still carries the day.

When mothers join the corporate race, their professional progression seems to be thwarted every time they bring a bundle of joy into the world. It is a tough world and a serious dilemma. It looks like we have not understood the dynamics of family life and success.

We tend to judge women’s success by male standards; the more they look like men, the more successful they are. If they decide to become stay-home moms, the world – not the baby – calls them a failure, a waste.

MY PARENTS

I thank God every day for the parents I had. I grew up in a rather large home where there was no discrimination; we were equal though not uniform. My parents were true visionaries, ahead of their time. Everyone at home, boy or girl, washed dishes, cleaned floors, helped in the kitchen, climbed trees and did some laundry.

My father was an important military man, a prestigious and respectable army general, a revered and well-regarded boss. My mother was a successful professional, a woman of outstanding character and kindness. She became one of the first women doctors in economics and a director of a prestigious banking institution.

Both father and mother were exceedingly successful in their professions. He had the power and she had the money, and they got along amazingly well. But they had one clear idea – their ten children were their greatest enterprise and priority. I thank God every day for their generosity. Had they stopped, for example at seven, I would not be in the world, for I am the last-born.

Such a large family was fun. There was always something to do, someone to laugh, play, fight and cry with… There was always fun. No matter how busy my parents were, the weekend was non-negotiable. Every weekend we would travel upcountry to visit relatives, to see grandmother, that beautiful woman of African descent who provided her grandchildren with amazing wisdom and humour.

Our parents complemented each other and blended their temperaments in amusing ways. She was always fast and early; he was slower and measured. She was impulsive while he was reflective. She was fun and tender; he was stern and disciplined. But both had an ''uncommon'' common sense and a sense of humour difficult to match.

She was, and still is, an amazing mother. He was an equally marvellous father, until his death on September 11, 2018. When he passed away, all my brothers and sisters agreed on two beautiful facts. One, he left nothing material behind for he had been generous beyond measure in life. Two, we did not care much about his professional achievements. They were prominent and he got a 21-gun salute, but they really mattered little to us.

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