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africa essay

Analysis of Gender Issues in Africa

Africa also referred to as the cradle of humankind, is one of the five continents in the world, which has developing nations. These countries face many challenges despite having numerous achievements politically, economically, socially, and technologically. One of the major issues affecting Africa is promoting gender equality among different countries in Africa. Gender refers to socially, constructed individuality of men and women. Oyewumi states that gender defines roles and responsibilities of an individual in the society. Promoting gender equality and empowering women are among the third goal of the Millennium Development Goals convoked by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and endorsed by other groups. This paper analyzes various gender issues in Africa and their effects on the community socially, economically, technologically, and politically.

Gender and Education

All over the world, education stands out as the key to success. Every individual has the right to study and gain knowledge. However, in some countries in Africa, that is not the case. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics “Data Centre”, 76% of men in Africa are literate compared to 65% of women. Boys, on the other hand, are given high priority to go to school, unlike girls who are left to stay home to carry out household chores, makes poverty feminized especially here in Africa. The issue mentioned has even affected the gender balance in science-related disciplines, whereby girls are discouraged to take such courses in the sense that they are hard and meant for the boys.

Gender Stereotype Roles and Responsibilities

Another issue, which contributes to unfairness in the society, is a distribution of functions and responsibilities in the household. More chores distributed to girls than boys who sit around waiting for food on the table due to the social norms. In some cultures like in Somali, men are not allowed to cook, which seems uncultured. Helping one another in roles like cooking and washing clothes does not make a man become a woman and vice versa, it just brings out some sense of collective responsibility, which is necessary for development.

Gender and Employment

Employment sector also affects equality between the sexes. In the formal sector, everyone in the in the office has the right to fair treatment concerning salary payment, promotions, bonuses, sick off, and leave days. However, in some cases, women are entitled to a lesser pay than their male colleagues, yet they carry out the same roles and responsibilities in the house. Promotion is sometimes given to men while women remain in their same positions for a long time. This sense of unfairness does not promote development instead; it contributes to the lagging of development in most African countries.

Gender and Marriage

Marriage should be an agreement between a man and a woman for its prosperity. Couples should date for some months or years and then decide to take their relationship to the next level. However, in some communities in Africa that not the case, in Maasai society, girls are seen as a sense of wealth while boys are brought up to be warriors and protect the community. According to Jepkemboi, once girls reach puberty, they are forcefully married off to richer men in the society who in return present several cattle to the parents of girls as marriage gifts. This behavior undermines girls’ self-esteem since they believe they do not have any right to define their destiny, and their role is to get married and give birth to children.

Uncultured Practices on Girls

Practices like retrogressive Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) done on young girls in some communities in Africa endanger their lives. It involves partial or total cutting of the external genitals on women for a religious or traditional reason. Some communities believe that it helps in reducing cases of early pregnancies and transmission of HIV. These practices can lead to massive bleeding of the girls and death. Several campaigns have been carried out by human rights societies to protest against such behaviors, which are encouraged by male elders in the community. According to Women and Girls at Risk of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in the United States, FGM mostly practiced by some communities in Guinea, Djibouti, and Kenya. America has taken an initiative to protect girls who are born in the country from going back to Africa to be cut.

Decision-Making in the Society

In Somali community, women are not allowed to make major decisions in the society. They are less viewed as opinion leaders, hence not involved, thus leading to slow progress in development in Africa. Ideas contributed by everyone in the society leads to its growth and development socially, economically, or politically. Women are known to be the best advisors in the world since they know how to take care of their children; they can take care of the society too. When women are not engaged in decision-making, their knowledge remains untapped hence leading to slow economic development in the community. At times, women are known to be their worst enemies and even if the elite women have a chance to represent the rest, their needs conflict with the poor women; they conflict with each other especially the senior and vulnerable women.

Patriarchy and Patriarchal Control of Resources

Owning a piece of land and other resources are everyone’s responsibility to the community. However, this has proven to be futile in Africa, especially in Cameroon where women do not have a right to own any piece of family land. Oyewumi states that women denied a chance to inherit their family resources while men are entitled to everything. The issue mentioned has contributed to poverty in the region. Hence, the life cycle continues up to their children. When it comes to fertile lands, men prefer to take rich soils while giving women un-fertile places hence low productivity in the areas.

Such decisions have immensely affected the agricultural sector, whereby each harvesting season-low production of farm produce has been a norm for decades. Women who are most concerned when it comes to land distribution include the widows and unmarried ones. Selfishness on community part immensely affected the agricultural sector, whereby each harvesting season-low production of farm produce has been a norm for decades.

Social Security

Social security has proven to be a major concern especially when it comes to women protection. It is a bit unfair that men can walk and go to all places regardless of time without having any problem, unlike women who fear being robbed, kidnapped, or raped. Mentioned issue created fear in women that they cannot walk alone at night without their male counterparts accompanying them. Social security in the communities also has high expectations for a behavior of women than men. Women are expected to commit no mistakes to protect their reputation when it comes to finding a suitor, unlike men who misbehave at times, In instances where a woman is seen to have undesirable behaviors, she will find it hard to get a husband hence married off to elders in the society.

Leisure and Recreational Activities

Spare time activities also remain a significant problem to gender equality since they are gender specific. Such activities include hunting, fishing, and herding. Women activities are also bound to them like cooking, weaving, and singing in ceremonies like a three-quarter wedding. In instances, where the head of the family dies, the wife tends to suffer since she will not be allowed to do her husband chores, this leads to a lot of suffering on the household of the deceased especially if he did not have a boy who can take care of the responsibilities.

Polygamous Nature

In African societies, men are allowed to be polygamous hence marry as many wives as they can feed them. According to Oyewumi, this is done to protect their lineage and have many children, since many children signify great wealth in the society. Polygamous men are given much respect, unlike their counterparts. Created much strain to the women especially in sharing of resources amongst themselves, polygamy also leads to a natural spread of diseases and HIV.

Myth of Men as Sole Breadwinners

The myth of men being the sole breadwinners in the African society undermines women’s responsibilities in a family. For instance, when a woman is hard working, and the man is lazy, all the credits go to the woman. In a just society, a sole breadwinner should be a person who provides daily to his/her family on a daily basis despite the hardships. Everyone’s effort in the household should be appreciated.

Reproductive roles

Despite all the challenges women undergo in the society, women constructive role in a family stands out to be the greatest one. Women are expected to give birth in the community for the continuity of clans. Women involvement in participatory in unpaid work leaves them with no income hence depending on their husbands. The society tends to be unfair to women who have not given birth since it looks down upon them in the society hence not giving them respect. Barren women who cannot give birth to children viewed as Curse or Bad luck, community despises them and ridicules them. Their reproductive roles limit them to participate in decision-making and in politics too, hence not engaging in matters of community development.

Health

Health refers to the state of complete mental, physical, or social well-being without the presence of diseases. Health gendered according to either masculine or feminine. In African society, men tend to have a lot of stress as compared to their female counterparts due to the family expectation of being a breadwinner. He tends to work hard and look for ways to feed his family. In sub-Sahara Africa, the rate of women who are HIV/AIDS infected is 57%, and nearly three-quarters of those infected are between 15-24 years old. Men tend to be reckless in having extramarital sexual relationships than women hence easily spreading diseases to their wives.

Violence

African culture on dealing with issues like violence not taken seriously, women are mostly the victims when it comes to domestic violence. The leaders in the community tend to solve such issues domestically without taking legal action on the violent men. Thus encourages such action to be frequently repeated. Violence cases concealed due to victims fearing gossips, hence preferring to solve their problems privately. For violence stopped, jail term given to people who engage in such behaviors for them to learn the consequences of their action. The women from abusive relationships face a lot of stigma and neglect hence need a lot of support from the community.

Genocide

During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, women suffered a lot from sexualized violence used as a weapon for war. The Hutus who were controlling the government fought against Tutsis, to eliminate them from the country. Rwanda has three ethnic groups, which include the Hutus, Tutsis, and Twas. Rwanda states that the Belgians, who favored the Tutsis during the colonial period by giving them privileges, unlike the other two groups, hence creating rivalry amongst themselves, instigated the war. U.N. Special Rapporteur on Rwanda Rene Dennis-Segui estimated in his 1996 report that 250,000 to 500, 0000 of women raped during the genocide. Most of the women were forced to early marriages, rape, serving as prostitutes, and group sex slavery. Unfortunately, the war ended, and the ICC has proved those who were responsible for the violence guilty and some are still on trial.

Conclusion

Finally, for the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 3 in Africa and sustainable development ensured elimination of gender inequality authorized at the same time. Everyone needs to be treated fairly regardless of his/her gender, applying to decision-making, education, employment, reducing stereotypic roles and being fair in judgments especially in allocating resources. Africa being a developing nation with the highest number of poor people, should embrace gender equity to promote development for its future and future generations. Equality between the sexes and women empowerment goal three is the key to other remaining goals, hence when achieved the other will succeed.

Part 2: Essay Sample About Socialization

Read the part 1 here… I became more interested with the stages and begun digging deep to further understand what happens at sensorimotor stage.  The research revealed to me that it is the stage I was not even two years old. I would grab on everything that was shiny or was a bright color. I was attracted to this one object at home, our red phone. I was beginning to get to the world around me. During the preoperational stage, I had started to speak so I would imitate my mother on the phone. How I was while at sensorimotor stage sounded beautiful. For once I imagined if I could go back to those sweet old days. I proceeded to know more, so the next stage after preoperational stage is concrete operational stage.  I already had an idea of what preoperational stage is. Piaget taught me that during this stage, children are able to predict outcomes of stories but they still lacked high cognitive thought process.

As I was growing up physically and mentally, my logical thinking was growing as well. I passed through the grade level though not with much ease due to language barrier. My friend Aida had helped ease many of my hard times as I started connecting with the outside world. Even though I was growing, I didn’t care much about myself. I remember the day my mother had forced me to cut my hair which I last did a long time ago.  When I went to school the following day, my fellow peers were looking at me as if something was wrong. I too started seeing myself differently, a demonstration of recognition of the generalized other.  Although I felt self-conscious and dreading going to school, it still did not mean as much as making my parents happy.

I also identify myself with formal operational stage. I felt I needed less research into the fourth stage of Piagets’ theory due to the name. But still I went ahead with my research and found out the fourth stage of Cognitive Development contains a high order of thinking. This was the time I joined middle school. I remember starting from my middle school years. I was exceptional in math so I tested up into advanced math courses. I could not fathom how I was that great in math while being in ESL due to my lack of English skills. I was doing poorly in science course but later my appetite for the science subject grew out of the blue, perhaps because of my sheer interest in knowing how the human body worked. Though science was hard, being a student and juggling between math and other subjects brought serious role strain. I had to learn how to manage and divide my time accordingly among all my courses so I may excel and maintain my GPA.

Back home, societies and families where I come from have certain norms that govern them. When I was growing up as a child, my parents required me to wear specific types of clothes that were conservative. I couldn’t understand why they imposed such strict rules on me while my peers were dressing the way they wanted to. I felt that my attires were outdated. Whenever I would meet some of my friends, they would laugh and brag as they were showing off their trendy new attire. I felt a bit odd amongst peers which made me feel like an outcast, but I consoled myself by accepting who I was and how far my family and I had come.

But one thing I admit is that my societal norms covered a number of folkways such as not cursing, getting tattoos, burping, laughing loudly, and washing hand before sitting at the table and the list goes on. The strong mores my parents instilled in me enabled me to go passed what I believed is appropriate way to behave. I never hit anyone in life; a mores would be not lying, stealing, or killing. My neighbor was stealing and I knew it was wrong due to the mores that were instilled in me as a child. I lied to protect my friend from her parents finding out what she was doing but I realized I should not have lied to protect her since it lead her to become more extreme in her actions. At the most important stage in my life, my peers wanted to influence and guide the decision that I made. Even though social control had consistently encouraged me to conform to my peer’s social norms through negative sanctions, I rejected the notions which lead my peers to punish me by ignoring me. The bullying had caused me to lose all my friends and yet I did not conform. As I was going through one of the most difficult years of my life, I was blessed to have my family by my side. Through my families informal social control prevented me from joining my friends who started engaging in sex, drugs, and alcohol.

A majority of my friends are now so much enchained by the habits that some had to drop out of school prematurely. Even though we grew up in rich suburb, my parents didn’t have material possession but what they gave me was much more valuable. They provided me with the guidelines through our values and norms which excelled me to where I am today. I also could not err and walk away with it.

The beginning of my high school life was no different from most kids in the society. I would wake up in the morning and take the bus to and from school. Most of my friends would come to school in their parent’s luxury brand vehicles. At times they would leave campus to buy food claiming that the school cafeteria food was the worst. I was not fortunate as them so my meals consisted of free cafeteria food.

They lived flashy style that as a youth was quite tempting but I could not afford what these rich kids had. There was a big gap of ethnocentrism between them and me. Of course some of my friends would sarcastically ask if my dad was a janitor since their parents were CEOs, CFOs or hold high positions in the prestigious companies. The only thing we shared in common were sports and subcultures such as hip hop and cheerleading. I begun to reflect on the sharp differences we had in our lifestyles.

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Part 1: Essay Sample About Socialization

Introduction

I was born in Morocco sixteen years ago. I later moved to the United States of America (USA) at tender age. I speak English, French, Spanish and Arabic languages fluently. We live in a rented house in Colorado because we could not afford to buy a home for ourselves. Before we moved to USA, I got enrolled in a preschool also at tender age and met Hajar who later became my best friend. In Morocco, our teachers taught us French and Arabic languages, and at the same time cultural studies.  I attended my middle and high school in Boulder Colorado, USA. As a visitor and a child, it was hard to get acclimated to US customs. Whenever I walked around, I would meet mean kids who would bully and push me around due to my inability to speak English. The situation forced me to enroll for English classes as a second language. It is at this level that I met Aida who became my best friend. While at home, I used to have a neighbor friend my mother didn’t like. Whenever she would see me talking to her, she would be infuriated. It was until I later learnt she was associated with a well known gang who would rob people at any slightest opportunity. The group committed many thefts from robbing homes to pick pocketing.  But Aida and I were unique in away. Whatever she wasn’t good at, I proved to be the best and vice versa. Aida was great in science courses while I was better in Math. She too wasn’t good in math which I loved very much. We maintained our status, as academic giants in all aspects of the courses by maintaining one of the highest GPAs in our school.

My family, school and friend Jane are the main agents of socialization who instilled discipline in me and made me who I am today. It cannot pass without out mentioning and appreciating my family who corrected me whenever I did wrong at that age. I call them special agents of socialization because they helped mold me into who I am today not just as a child but from infant. As a Moroccan American, the belief in morals, and the values of my culture like saying hello to visitors with respect, kissing the elders forehead when greeting them only brought the best in me.

At preoperational stage, my mother tells me that I was a quiet child and did not speak often but when I did, it was difficult for me to construct any meaningful statement. Due to my inability to speak often, when I did, I would stutter which would force me to cry. This didn’t sound real to me because I see myself differently. I doubted my mother’s story and begun to research about what happens at preoperational stage. Jean Piaget, a French national invented what is presently referred to as Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive development. Exploring Piaget’s theory led me to discover that there exist four stages of cognitive development. These include; sensorimotor, preoperational which I at least had some rough idea on, concrete operational and lastly formal operational stage.

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