History would tell us categorically that women in the past had been relegated to the background. There were mostly found in the kitchen and other absurb places. For instances, modelling pictures in the 1970′s seemed to potray women as perfect in the kitchen and also the home as a place where they found their fulfilment. To get a clear view, let’s look at the history of women in some celebrated continent.
In China, the drowning of infant girls were tolerated in poor rural areas as an economic necesity. Globally, the birth of babies are mostly met with joy and felicitations but in China, the birth of women are met with ridicle and bitterness. This was because girls were seen as “just another mouth to feed”, another dowry to pay and a temporary family member who would leave to her husband kin to serve. Women were simply not allowed to work in factories and also to inherit property. Parents were proud to have pictures of their sons hanging in their room but the girls were simply not given any attention. Females from poor homes couldn’t marry because their poor families couldn’t pay the bride price.
In Africa, the situation was a bit better. Boys were more cherished as compared to their female counterpart. Females were seen as people who needed to learn about how to keep a family and to maintain a home. They were also seen as main instument for procreation. Men were seen as the head of the family. Females had to comply with whatever decision the men came out with. A man was mostly measured by the number of women he had. Women in Africa were just a mere “collection” in a gallery.
In Europe, the position of females depended on how whiter or how beautiful she was. Beautiful women were given a lot of attention. This can even be seen from fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel just to mention but a few. Also, females were valued based on the position the parents held.
But soon after the Second World War, things began to take a U-turn. For instance, the Communist Party in China sought to improve the lives of females by freeing women from household work, putting them in factories and giving them the right to work and own property. Again, in 1979, the government’s draconian one-child per couple population policy began this in a bid to increase the value of women. This was to make parents love their babies whether male or female. This greatly reduced female infanticide and also made girls to have a good image.
In African the heroic stories of females like Yaa Asantewaa changed the mentality of women. They saw themselves to be as equal as the males and then began to unleash themselves from the shackle they had been forced into. Also the myth “it is a waste of educate a female child” began to dwindle. More ladies were enrolled in school. This led to a decrease in the birth rate, ladies began to own property and the Akan maxim “if a woman buys gun, he stores it in a man’s home” began fallacious.
In Europe females began to agitate for equality. More laws were passed in order to enable women work in bigger firms and jobs. Initiatives like “maternity leave” gave women the chance for them to leave work so as to give birth.
With all these changes, the 21st Century woman now looks tall and elevated from the bondages of the past and she now stands on an enviable pedestal. Today more than 70% of women work full or part-time paid jobs. Women now have rising wages rate. Women have now acquired higher and more education and skill training which have greatly increased their productivity in the workplaces. Women’s wages have now increased over-time. In response to this rising wages, more females have substitued work for having more children. This is more pronounced in married women.
These higher wages for women have produced other reallocation of time and purchasing patterns to facilitate labour market work. Day care services have partly replaced personal child care. Fast food, restaurant meals, pizza delivery and prepared take home food have substituted elaborated homemade family meals. Lawn care and in-home cleaning services have now proliferated. Microwave ovens, dishwashers, automatic washers and dryers are now commonly used in the home. These have made women to have more time to work.
At the peak of the baby boom in 1957 the global birth rate was about 3.8 lifetime birth per woman but now it is less than 1.7 lifetime birth per woman today. Thanks to contraceptives and technology, the 21st century female can now decide when she was to give birth and also the spacing. Women with relatively high earnings have fewer children than those with relatively low earnings and this is because the 21st century’s female priority now is working and not giving birth.
During the era of the 21st Century woman, there has been sky rocketting rate of divorce. Marital instability as evidence by high divorce rates in the 1990′s and the 2000′s have motivated many women to either stay single, give birth outside wedlock or opt for adoption. The 21st Century female now does not spend much time with her children. Children now have to leave in constant depression and mental agony of staying with a single parent. The economic impact of divorce on non working women is also often disatrous as alimony and child support are not always forthcoming. Most previous non-working women enter the labour marktet following divorce.
During the era of the 21st Century woman, there has also been an acute increase in child delinquency. The moral of the 21st Century woman’s children is weaker as compared to those of the 19th and 20th Century. Despite the increase in technology and security crime rate have become sophisticated and “unreasonable”. Most children now enter into internet scam make addition money for “boisterous” things and research also shows that most of them are from families with a few foundation anf also from homes where parents prefer money to anything else.
Promiscuity among the 21st century woman have now reached an unprecedented height. This is more pronounced in the entertainment industry where most of the female celebrities now give birth outside wedlock. The number of single parents have now reached an implausible figure.
In the beginning of this article I said “History would tell us categorically that women in the past had been relegated to the background” but now looking at what the 21st Century woman has been able to change the status quo I think they deserve a standing ovation but they have changed their life and have changed the world as a whole.
If we now live in a bette society today, we should congratulate women for what they have done. We must congratulate every women we see whether it is on the shores of Accra or on the Arabian desert of the streets of Times Square. They have reshaped the world and promoted balance. No matter the bad effect the change they have had on the continent, we must know that nothing comes at a cost.
The attention women get on Mother’s Day is truly deserving and as Williams Shakespeare said “I am a woman and when I think I must speak”. With their thought they had changed the skies.
By Yaw Frimpong