Feminism “Is Not About Fighting Men" - Prof. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu
A lecturer of Feminist Jurisprudence has stated that feminism “is not about fighting men at all.”
In her words, feminists “are seeking a fairer world. “
She adds that a feminist wants “the world to recognize that the women are also here. A woman is not born with half a brain; it is the facilities and opportunity that are put at their disposal that makes the difference.”
Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu made these remarks on the Joy Super Morning Show on Tuesday morning.
In recent time, the definition of what constitutes feminism has been a subject of intense public interest in both traditional and new media leading to two schools of thought in Ghana heralded by Pepper Dem Ministries and Sugardem Ministries.
On their official Facebook wall, Pepper Dem Ministries States their mission as “probing, interrogating, and theorizing is to facilitate learning, unlearning and re-learning of the narratives both male and females have been operating by, in order to establish a better approach to our socialization.
“The issues we technically address are certain ingrained gender norms and how partial it can be against women.”
On their part, Sugardem Ministries state their objective as “Sugardem Ministries is here to conserve, restore and uphold moral values to enrich the human experience with hope and harmony by providing the best counsel through Biblical principles.”
However according to Wikipedia, Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies, that share the common goal to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal and social equality of sexes.
This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.
Professor Mensa-Bonsu agrees that feminism movement in Ghana “is not new.”
“Every generation has its issues,” she states. “And if that generation stands up to fight that issue, I cannot fault them. Some people have had to lay the foundation for others to build on it,” she added and gave an example in the 60s to support her claim.
“I heard this anecdote that in the early 60s when President Nkrumah wanted to appoint a woman to the High court, many people protested. Many lawyers resisted it. How were they going to call her? And I understand she said call me my lord I don’t mind.”
“So she was appointed and women got to the bench. And that is how women were called my lord for the longest time. Fast forward 40 years later, the new chief justice who was a female, had the confidence to say I am a woman, address me as your ladyship. And that is what we are doing now.”
She has urged today’s generation of feminist to build on the foundation that was previously laid.
“Am saying every generation has its issues. And some acts of previous generations lay the foundation for other generations to build on. So whatever the issues of your generation, you are quite right to stand up and fight. The women, who had the opportunity to go to the university, sometimes had to fight their families,” she continued.
However, Professor Mensa-Bonsu maintains that this fight should be about seeking a fairer world not fighting men. She believes some of the factors that pushed women to the background in the past were done in good faith and out of tradition.
She states “Sometimes it is the anxiety to make sure that daughters are protected that makes families push them in directions that they are sure they will not be out of job. That goes back to our culture.”
She explains “previous generations felt that a woman had to have “a profession.” So it was safer to go into the caring profession, nursing teaching and so on. There you were sure that you will have a career for the longest time. And so on.
Families were worried about the security of both financial and physical of their daughters.so anything that will make sure that they don’t lack anything will be attractive.”
She further adds previous generations were discouraging their daughters from going to the universities because they wouldn’t marry. Because for them woman marrying is the height of a woman’s achievement.
Then they came into contact with somebody like me and realize that when you went to school and learn all kinds of things you did not thereby become barren. You did not thereby become unattractive to a male to want to marry you.
Their daughters went to the university; happily, for them, all of them are married. They have broken the jinx; they too can influence other people.”
And the fact that in many of our societies women can’t own land. And because we are an agrarian society and you need land in order to live if you don’t have access to land, you have a problem. And so getting the daughter married to someone who has land was important.”
But she asks, “What if the woman could make her own living?”
Professor Mensa-Bonsu has there encouraged women to seek education and also role modeling for that is what will break every barrier of injustice.
“Education is the key. Education can break all the barriers. And once you have given the females education, they will put their mind to work and they will fight every injustice around them that militate against their progress.”
Professor Henrietta Joy Abena Nyarko Mensa-Bonsu is a Professor of Law and Director of the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD).