In South Africa, it is widely known that women experience gender stereotypes and are challenged by social issues. Patriarchy is one of them and it is firmly rooted in our communities. This, unfortunately, leads to some women accepting Patriarchy as the norm in society. It is a system in which men hold more power than women and a system where women are largely excluded. In this system, men dominate in roles of political leadership, business management, religious institutions, economic system and in homes where they are considered as the head of the family. This social ill continues to plague our society and must be uprooted.
Patriarchy is caused by cultural and religious norms that encourage a man to believe that he has more power than a woman. Our social norms have failed to teach men how to take care of women which consequently leads to gender discrimination.
Patriarchy affects women on an economic scale. According to Statistics South Africa, a female worker earns approximately 30% less, on average, than male workers. The report reveals that males are more likely to be employed and have relatively better-paying jobs compared to females. It concludes by showing how the South African labour market is more favourable to men than it is to women, and men are more likely to be in paid employment than women, regardless of race.
In all aspects of life, South African women are still far from attaining an equal status with men. Women continue to be deprived of leadership positions in the workplace. Women are encouraged to submit to their husbands and see men as the head of the family. There are some churches that often demonise women and how women should behave or dress. Patriarchy makes women feel inferior, and exerts violence through men, particularly in rural areas.
Today we have so many cases of violence against women because men think they are superior to women and they are entitled to women bodies. An example can be seen in the story of a 19-year-old woman from Dutywa in the Eastern Cape who was abducted and forced into marriage. Patriarchy continues to be the motive behind most of the abuse against women and the gender pay gap.
There’s an African proverb that says “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation” In order to eradicate patriarchy as the society we need to create new beliefs that accommodate both men and women.
We need to empower women by providing them with leadership courses and teaching them how to be financially independent. One of the most important ways to eradicate patriarchy is to afford women the same opportunities as men. Employers should start offering more leadership positions to women and prioritise gender equality in the workplace.
Without this change, some women will continue to believe men are more powerful than them. As long as patriarchy exists, we will continue to read about the same statistics that show how men earn more than women. It is therefore imperative that we completely uproot patriarchy in our society.