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Project Unity - Achieving Gender Equality in the Central African Republic

Women have, throughout history, been considered all too frequently as second-class citizens. I found it very interesting that of the 37 charitable organizations helping out in the Central African Republic, only one of them dealt with women's issues. I highly agreed with the fact that education is the only way to change these women's situations, since we are dealing with age-old values as the core of the problem.

The only way to make women a more presentable force in a society is to literally change the connotations and opinions of the citizens. Giving women power or money or rights doesn't help them if their fellow townspeople don't feel that they deserve it. They wouldn't respect them and therefore, when shaded from the law, wouldn't respect any rules we could put in place about their treatment. This is why domestic violence is still so prevalent. It isn't that men are more allowed to beat their wives (at least not in our society,) it's that the age-old idea that men are superior beings that perpetuates these activities below the eyes of even the most "civilized" societies.

I think the approach this group recommended really would help these women in the best way possible. Taking them out of their homes or preventing them from participating in the activities they have always traditionally been responsible for, such as child-rearing or domestic duties, would not help them, it would only strip them of their culture and cause tension and hostility with anyone who still held their beliefs of inferiority. This method gives them a sense of accomplishment, a sense of duty, a sense of importance, and an education, and it's quite feasible from what I can tell.

By giving the women teaching jobs, you raise their importance level within the community. They then become not just the raisers of their own children, but responsible for the well-being of everyone's children. They become a valuable asset to the community at large instead of just to their own households, if it even was felt that they were that before. By giving them this importance, they can gain a little more respect, and sense of self-worth.

By educating them, they are gaining opportunities they wouldn't have had before, which I won't get into because the importance of education in general would be another paper entirely.

The kicker here, I think, is in the education of the children. By teaching the women of the community how to teach, they become knowledge-bearers in the children's eyes. They become the source of education to the children, so in those important years of developing values and priorities, these children can have a chance to learn to respect women instead of just thinking of them as, again, child bearers and cooks. This in itself is the key. We can't swoop in and change the connotations and beliefs in adult minds overnight. We can't do anything to make the adults in this society stop thinking of women as lesser beings unless they want to. But giving the women this knowledge and showing that to the children, and having the women have a say in what the kids are learning, that could be all the difference in changing the ideals that hold women down. Once again, education is key.