Women's Day: Focusing on a different kind of gender violence
Posted Saturday, March 2 2013 at 00:00
Physical and sexual violence are big issues. I, however, beg to draw your attention to a different kind of violence: structural violence.
The UN theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is: A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women. When I originally set out to write this, my mind was all set on the violence experienced by women. There have been a lot of campaigns on the issue and almost enough- for there can never be enough- awareness.
But physical and sexual violence may not be our biggest gender-based violence problem. For the UN, they would probably be the case of India, where rape stories continue to shock, the most recent being the one about three sisters aged five, nine and 11; and South Africa, where, in the country’s 2009 Medical Research Council research, one in four men admitted to having raped someone.
We could lament about our very own six in 10 women who are okay with wife beating. However, in the same survey that reported the 60 per cent giving the okay to wife battering, there is a bullet point that reads: “55 per cent of men aged 15-49 in Uganda reported to have experienced domestic violence (UDHS, 2011).”
Also, records at Kawempe Family Protection Unit show that for every 10 domestic violence cases reported, four are male. That is 40 per cent and 55 per cent for the men.
It does not sound like we are suffering, does it? It could be equalised in some sick cosmic way. For every woman that gets beaten, another woman in another part of the country gets even. My sister’s keeper right there.
I have been counting
I turn my efforts to a different issue, a different kind of violence: structural violence. You see, for the past few months, I have made it my business to count the number of women sitting on boards of directors. For every company office I walk into, I count off and calculate the percentage and it has never been 50 per cent, or even close.
Then, there is the case of the defiled girl in police stations across the country who, after the traumatic experience, is held for days until a doctor is available to do the tests. There is the widow who will never inherit her husband’s property. Does this country even have a defined policy on obstetric fistula and a plan to clear the backlog of women that require repair surgery?
For every woman reading this, what gender are the senior people in your company? Who is on your company’s board of directors? We go to school. We are qualified. How are we under-represented in senior management? Make it your business. Be your sister’s keeper.