Mother­hood’s bur­den of re­spon­si­bil­ity

Cape Argus - - OPINION - YOLANDA MHLUNGU Yolanda Mhlungu is a com­mu­ni­ca­tion sci­ence stu­dent who runs her own brand­ing com­pany

WOMEN’S eman­ci­pa­tion has been at the fore­front of con­cern since the dawn of our democ­racy.

Our lead­ers are de­ter­mined to re­dress past in­jus­tices com­mit­ted against women, and in the­ory and on pa­per, our gov­ern­ment’s ef­fort to ad­dress gen­der equal­ity is ad­mirable – if only it trans­lated prac­ti­cally.

Our gov­ern­ment has come up with great ini­tia­tives to re­ha­bil­i­tate men to shift their mind­set of view­ing women as ob­jects, and to fight gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

We have many pro­grammes in place to teach men how to be good and ac­cept­able in so­ci­ety, but none are there to teach our women.

His­tory has proved that a hu­man soul that has been op­pressed for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time and ripped off its dig­nity will al­ways be the first to op­press and abuse those it views as easy tar­gets.

The in­hu­man con­di­tions which black men still live un­der to­day, to­gether with re­li­gious be­liefs which pro­mote pa­tri­archy, are some of the rea­sons why we live in a world of fear when we raise our girl child.

But as women and as a so­ci­ety we can­not sit and vil­ify men and sanc­tify women, as that would be an in­jus­tice.

It ap­pears there are some women who con­fused hav­ing rights with aban­don­ing one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

In 2018 there have been two sig­nif­i­cant cases re­ported where moth­ers caused harm to their kids.

Ear­lier this year, a woman re­ceived a prison sen­tence for pro­tect­ing her daugh­ter’s rapist. Just last month, four chil­dren were re­ported to have died in a shack fire in Alexan­dra town­ship.

They had been left with their teenage sib­ling while the mother was at a lo­cal tav­ern. So per­haps, along with move­ments that teach men to be good, we should not leave the women be­hind.

As Africans we come from a his­tory where fam­ily val­ues came be­fore any­thing else. Each and ev­ery per­son in the fam­ily had their own con­tri­bu­tion to build­ing a co­he­sive environment, and women were in­deed at the fore­front of cre­at­ing a warm and loving home.

The num­ber of ini­tia­tives di­rected at em­pow­er­ing the girl child eco­nom­i­cally are laud­able, but when those ini­tia­tives leave the boy child be­hind, one wor­ries if we are rais­ing girls who will be pow­er­ful women with no male com­pan­ions.

The same sen­ti­ments should be shared when there are ini­tia­tives and pro­grammes which groom men to be good fathers and good hus­bands, but none are there to teach women to be good wives and moth­ers.

Re­cent events of chil­dren be­ing thrown in dust­bins and toi­lets or women fail­ing to pro­vide for chil­dren’s needs proves that mother­hood does not come nat­u­rally.

In the ur­ban set­ting there is no vil­lage to help you, and it is time women un­der­stood the re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing a mother in mod­ern South Africa be­fore we de­cide on be­com­ing moth­ers.

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