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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Makuvaza, MD

Women change the development perspective

Women change the Development Perspective

Development, liberation and transformation are well aspects of the same process. It is not a marginal activity. It is the core of all creative human living. Allow me space to share and unearth the above terms before, I venture into the subject matter of my article.The process of transformation, whether sugar coated with names such as ‘radical transformation”, of building a just society, involves what Marcuse called, “the long march through the institutions.”It involves creating new education systems, new patterns of health care, new legal systems as well as a new framework for the economy.

Development has often been seen only in terms of economic development, and economics has been seen primarily in terms of production, trade and finance. Originally, “the economy” meant the management of the household. Any woman knows that managing a household involves much more than producing and distributing material “goods”.

Liberation, much broader involves breaking down the yokes of all forms of oppression, marginalization and discrimination of man by man”, in modern society. Liberation is the gateway to political emancipation, right to vote for man and woman, freedom of association, expression and many other forms as enshrined in the national constitutions of countries and United Nations Charter or bill of human rights.

Back to my subject matter, recent analysis by women has stressed that “productive economic activities” have always rested upon the “reproductive” activities, primarily of women. These include not only giving birth to children, but also nurturing and caring for them, and for such, the disabled and the elderly. They include nurturing the relationships and building the unity of the family and the community. This involves listening and sharing, paying attention to people’s needs, celebrating the great moments of their lives, such as births, deaths, marriages, harvests and other achievements. This “weaving together” is at the very heart of development.

This weaving forms the social fabric of a society. Women have been the invisible weavers of the web of community and cultures. The social fabric depends on the quality of interpersonal communication between people, both in the family and in the community.

For centuries, the work of women has been invisible, taken for granted, and undervalued. Much of it was never even included in the calculations of Gross National Product (GNP).

But in recent years, more and more women have been forced through economic necessity, to seek work in so-called, “productive jobs” outside the home.

The whole role of care, of nurturing interpersonal communication and organizing community celebrations, has been increasingly neglected.  The lack of nurturing of human quality of life, for the young and old, but also for all of us in the times when we need a little TLC (tender, loving and care), leads directly to the breakdown of the social fabric. We see the results all around in the neglected street children, rape, alcohol abuse, drugs, crime, teenagers who have never had enough personal attention, broken families and lonely old people. As women continue to work outside the home, the need for men to share these responsibilities increases. It also increases the urgency of creating institutions in every field that will respond to these needs of human spirit.

These radical shifts in employment patterns and changes in the role women play in society are forcing new forms of social, economic, political and cultural institutions to emerge. The tensions evoked in communities and families as these changes occur are inevitable, for they go to the core of our relational patterns. The changes can either be seen as dangerous (“Let’s get these women back to into the kitchen!”) or as opportunities for enormous creativity and growth for both men and women. The call to all is to become whole and to embrace all that it means to be fully human.

In conclusion, transformation is only valid if it is carried out with the people, not for them…….. Liberation is like a childbirth, and painful one. The person who emerges is a new person, no longer oppressor or oppressed, but a person in the process of achieving freedom…. It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their oppressors. (Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed). It is my humble call for the youth and women to remember that, “No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come”.  Transformation includes the responsibility of attending to our spiritual journeys seeing how our journeys interconnect like streams of a river, gathering and finding faith and strength together then spreading out to others as wide life giving , knowing that one day our time will come. 

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