…power over ourselves

...freeing our feet so we can stand on our own

One of my favorite feminist quotes comes from Mary Wollstonecroft and it says “I do not wish them (women) to have power over men but over themselves” because I believe that is the essence of women empowerment.

I never resonate with the preoccupations of some activists with ‘demanding’ that men create spaces for women in politics, in education etc… the whole idea of creating quota systems sits rather uncomfortably with me.

For what a man gives to a woman, he has the power to withhold at some point and there is no empowerment derived from being ‘given’ – empowerment only comes with what one achieves, attains and realizes from their own efforts.

I don’t doubt women’s capabilities, potentials and talents – I don’t think they need men to ‘liberate’ them – I think they can pretty much liberate themselves – if they acquire education, work their way to the top, begin to actively participate in the highest echelons of decision-making, policy-formulation and governance.

I have come to believe that what women need is to have power over themselves and that power manifests in overturning the status quo whenever it is employed to oppress, marginalize or discriminate against us.

Recently there was a landmark passport ruling by the Supreme Court’s Justice Rita Makarau ruled in favour of Margaret Dongo who, two years after filing a constitutional challenge (seeking the, nullification of certain provisions of the Guardianship of Minors Act, which she claimed were discriminatory against married women who were not regarded as natural guardians of their children) finally triumphed.

I want to believe that having a female Justice presiding over the case had a lot to do with the verdict; I want to believe having a determined woman who knows her rights had a lot to do with Margaret Dongo daring to challenge the status quo.

I want to believe that the results of that ruling, which will impact favorably on married women were wrought through the actions of fellow women and that no man played a part in ridding us of that cumbersome piece of discriminatory legislation.

I want to believe that these are just examples of women exercising power (not over men) but over themselves, over their lives and ultimately over the system of patriarchy that informs the conditions of their oppression, marginality and discrimination.

So, I too, wish that we as women, may choose to have power over ourselves, choose to exercise that power and choose to liberate and empower ourselves.

....power is a flame that burns from within


2 thoughts on “…power over ourselves

  1. tsitsi makwande masuka says:

    The passport ruling is one of the greatest battles won for all women in Zimbabwe. I too sufferd at the hands of this repressive law when i wanted to get a passport and i could not because my father was not there to sign the required documents. Surely, where was i supposed to find a man who had deserted and abandoned his children for almost 2 decades? The woman who had single handedly toiled and suffered to bring up her children did not have the right to sign those documents according to Zimbabwean law.
    I finally got my passport a few months later because i had turned the right age to apply on my own.But i had spent a friutless night sleeping in a queue to get a form only for my application to be denied. Africa needs more women like Dongo. Women who bravely fight against stupid oppressive laws that deny women and children basic needs and rights such as passports.

  2. Nqaba says:

    Great ruling. Ironically I am happy for that ruling even though I belong to the race of oppressors (man). Being born of a single mother I had a hard time getting an ID and a passport so I am naturally pleased.
    Delta I think they are many ways to get empowerment it all depends on how you do it.
    I don’t believe in quota systems but if they kickstart a process of female empowerment then I don’t see the problem. I think its about building on what you have and if its the disliked quotas then so be it

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