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Today's Women and the Society

Nov 14, 2008, 6:42 AM | Article By: Isatou Dumbuya

In our world today, we see women of different societies, ways of living, traditions, norms, values and beliefs. Regardless of what civilization and modernization have shown and managed to convince women, still some women are lagging behind. An educated woman who takes for granted living in the heart of the city of Banjul with cold and hot running water gushing from the tap whenever she needs it and a generator which comes in whenever the lights go off wouldn't believe that there is another woman who thinks that her life is a fairy tale. This woman is living in the slums and in a shanty house. Never in her wildest dreams has she ever imagined being educated and living a life like that other woman's. Her life is a tussle, bustle and a hustle everyday.

Picture her in the bustling Serrekunda market, in a produce stall. Behind piles of plump tomatoes, greenery and fruits, she is arguing her prices. Behind her is a sleeping baby; an older child is nearby selling sweets from a tray. At dusk the woman will pack her wares, count her takings, marshal her children and set off for home. The evening meal must be on the table promptly or her husband will grumble and her mother- in -law complain.

This woman is a universal and timeless figure. She could live in a town or countryside, in Africa, the Americas, the Pacific, Asia, and even in Europe. Her life is busy but her margins are low. Her own and her children's health and nutritional status are borderline, her literacy is limited to vegetable prices and market labels. A serious illness or sudden loss in the family fortunes could easily plunge this woman into desperation and destitution - as well she knows. Her day begins at dawn and ends past sundown and she occupies its hours filling many roles simultaneously. She is mother, wife, daughter-in-law, manager of the household; she is earner, trader, stallholder; she is carer, nurturer, raiser of children; she may also be woman's group member and community leader. How well she fulfils these roles depends on many factors: her knowledge, strength, her moral and personal relationships, how much family and community support she can count upon, her access to services, the household's economic health, her participation in affairs of the wider world, and her sense of command over the forces shaping her life.

My fellow women as we must have calculated, this woman is the everyday woman we see at the market when we shop or even our women relatives at home. We must have also noticed that this woman isn't acquainted with education but with ignorance. She even blames the inflation on sellers, incognizant of the fact that it is due to the world market price. This very woman submits to whatever her husband and kinsmen say even if what they say is detrimental to her own human rights, unknowing to her that she even has them.

But to the woman walking home from the market, holding tight to the earnings of the day in her pocket and to her dawdling youngster's hand, her roles are seamless. This multiplicity of functions is simply the life of a woman as she knows it. But she also knows that it is becoming harder and harder everyday to meet the obligations of being a woman has thrust upon her. Economic crisis has lowered her takings and threatening her husband's job. The hours she works stretch around the clock; yet the costs of rents, fuel, water, healthcare and school fees are rising.

There is less food in the household, yet she may face the burden of another pregnancy at any time.

How is this woman and millions of others like her supposed to manage?

The answer is simple beloved readers: only when they have gained equality can their full potential as a woman - and therefore as a mother - be realized.