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Women and Water in Africa

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ar08
Words 1233
Pages 5
Under the Umbrella of Patriarchy

Growing up, we all for the most part get the preconceived notion embedded in our minds that men are the strong dominant breadwinners, and women are the submissive stay at home wives. Although in Africa the women in my opinion are taking on the role of the husband, or male of the household. The women and children walk miles and miles a day for the basic necessity of water. Not only do they have to travel long distances, but they have to carry the water from place to place, causing a heavy burden on the women’s body. My question is why aren’t the men doing it? If men want to play the strong dominant role, they should be the ones fetching water. The reality of it is that the men can haul much more water than the women will ever be able to. In the book, Beyond Borders, it discusses women’s struggle to shape their lives “under the umbrella of patriarchy and paternalistic dominance” (Lerner 254).By the general concept of the superiority of men, and inferiority of women as it has evolved overtime. It reveals how we among different societies have continued this patriarchal and paternalistic movement throughout the course of history ultimately with the power to the male’s advantage. So with reference to articles from the Water and Culture Reader I’d like to discuss the unjust treatment of women in Africa that is still at large.
“Women perform all the labor associated with water collection at the expense of education, cultural, and political involvement, and rest and recreation” (Bouwer 321). Women literally give up everything to provide for their families. I’m not saying that this is a completely bad thing, because it’s not, it’s understandable to go above and beyond to sustain your family. My issue lies here, according to the CIA World Fact book from the 2010 census 73.2% of men and 61.2% of women in Ghana over the age of fifteen can read and write. So why is it that men whose only priority is school doesn’t have a higher literacy rate, women who give up everything to slave fetching water are still for the most part keeping up with men in the education department. The women do so much more and spread themselves thin, yet the men still aren’t trying hard enough to learn and better themselves for the women who provide for them. Each society has their own patriarchal and paternalistic ways unique to their own, yet all seemingly tied. For example “Ghanaian men do not categorize women as breadwinners: Women’s financial contribution to the household is unrecognized and therefore less valued” (Archer 311).
The foundation of this patriarchal view has developed through a process that “took nearly 2500 years to complete” (Lerner 253). The main unit that guided these conceptions was the patriarchal families, “the roles and behavior deemed appropriate to the sexes were expressed in values, customs, laws and social roles” (Lerner 253). Not only did the families reflect the patriarchal state, they raised their children in the same process per se, to reinforce the order. The paternalistic aspect of the situation is an unwritten unofficial contract that offers the woman protection and support, in exchange for sexual services and unpaid domestic services says Lerner (254). Thus leading the reader to a conclusion that a woman never outgrows the “childlike state of being subordinate and under protection” (Lerner 255). Which I believe to be the ultimate problem, just because it is in our nature to be submissive to men doesn’t mean we have to completely rely on them either. Women for centuries have fought to make a name for themselves, fighting for their rights and equality, and we still can’t seem to escape the males overlooking shadow. “Ghanaian women have greater workloads than their male counterparts, as women do universally” (Archer 311).
As a result of this ideology that has been rooted into the female’s being, it is only in our nature to look down upon ourselves, through statistics from part IV chapter 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals multiple acts of violence displayed and taken out on women and children, due to their gender. Granted these statistics are somewhat swayed due to unreported violence that takes place, and the women’s acceptance to these situations because she’s fearful physically and emotionally for her life. Therefore, women tend to simply accept the situation and convince themselves they deserved the act. The inferiority of a female is seemingly inescapable
I found it quite intriguing how drastically times have changed, and yet how similar situations remain. Women in Africa or women in general to an extent are still viewed as less than in today’s world. I don’t think these associations and pre-conceptual ideologies will ever change. It’s what we know, and evidently were okay with that. As much as it bothers me to know that women have to endure long and burden-full walks for such a basic necessity, it is what they grew up accustomed to, and it is what they know. Granted there are many feminist movements that have accomplished a lot, but realistically they haven’t changed our perceptions of the male dominance over us. Ultimately because we remain to have the pre-concepted idea of who is superior, our opinions and perceptions still remain unaltered. I believe that the only way we will ever come to a reasonable balance is through faith and striving to be the best we can be individually because, “A woman in the presence of a good man, a real man, loves being a woman. His strength allows her feminine heart to flourish. His pursuit draws out her beauty. And a man in the presence of a real woman loves being a man. Her beauty arouses him to play the man; it draws out his strength. She inspires him to be a hero" (Eldredge 18).
Works Cited Page Archer, Emily. “The Wells Are Drying Up: Water & Women In Ghana.” The Water and Culture Reader. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead, 2011. 311. Print. Bouwer, Karen. “Women and Water.” The Water and Culture Reader. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead, 2011. 321. Print. Eldredge, John, and Stasi Eldredge. "Chapter 1." Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul. Nashville: Nelson, 2005. 18. Print. Gerda Lerner “The Patriarchal Family.” Beyond Borders: Thinking Critically About Global Issues. Rothenberg, Paula S., 2006. Print. 1 October 2011
World Health Organization “Violence Against Women.” Beyond Borders: Thinking Critically About Global Issues. Rothenberg, Paula S., 2006. Print. 1 October 2011
Pietra Rivoli “COTTON COMES TO CHINA.” THE TRAVELS OF A T-SHIRT IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY-SECOND EDITION: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade. Rivoli, Pietra. 2005. Print. 1 October 2011
Pietra Rivoli “THE LONG RACE TO THE BOTTOM.” THE TRAVELS OF A T-SHIRT IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY-SECOND EDITION: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade. Rivoli, Pietra. 2005. Print. 1 October 2011
Pietra Rivoli “THE UNWITTING CONSPIRACY.” THE TRAVELS OF A T-SHIRT IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY-SECOND EDITION: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade. Rivoli, Pietra. 2005. Print. 1 October 2011
"Central Intelligence Agency." Welcome to the CIA Web Site — Central Intelligence Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <>.

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