On air: Is sexism holding Africa back?

AFRICAN WOMENOn Tuesday’s show we discussed Burma and Hillary Clinton. Michael was our last caller. He said: ‘This is typical of men in the developing world. Their attitude towards women is holding their countries back?’ Then George emailed who describes himself as an African living in Portland, Oregon. ‘The question was not only wrong, it shows the mindset of most men in African. We Africans are very chauvinistic. Next to the Middle East, African males shows the least respect to there women and usually don’t take women seriously. I’m glad Hilary put this person in his place.’

We had a few callers after George who were keen to hit back, some quite outraged by his comments. Take David in Sudan: “yes she answered badly and yes the person who asked the question was ignorant. But how can you say that the whole of Africa is sexist. You cannot make such generalisations.” Another caller from Nigeria believed that the question was unfair, “don’t forget that many men know nothing other than the mentality of their former colonisers. With time, this will pass too.” We’ve had such a great response that we are considering running this story tonight.

Some of you  feel that we are blowing this all out of proportion, like this blogger who says that we are all too quick to shout “sexist”. 

In South Africa the ANC has been criticised for failing to take women seriously in politics. In 2007 the ANC announced a target of 50% representation for women in government and public life. Are you in South Africa and have you noticed a change?

This is not to say that there hasn’t been progress in Africa when it comes to women in politics. In Kenya, Prof. Maathai is at the forefront of an robust environmental movement in Africa, whilst in Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has climbed to the highest political post in the country.

So is it a man’s world in Africa? Is a macho mentality holding the continent back? And is  it up to African women to move the continent forward?

131 Responses to “On air: Is sexism holding Africa back?”

  1. 1 Martin
    August 11, 2009 at 20:06

    in a way sexices is holding africa back to some extend. but it can only be attributed to what i would consider the religion from what perspective one could look at it. from the islamic back ground notably in Nigeria or where islam is practice women are regard as not a partner to the man which is a wrong concept

    • August 12, 2009 at 17:49

      That is simply not true. In islam a mother has been given a second status after ALLAH and His PROPHET. And their is even a prophetic saying that says. ‘PARADISE IS UNDER THE FEET OF YOUR MOTHERS’ meaning muslims should respect and honour their mothers. Your comment merely shows your IGNORANCE AND CONTEMPT OF ISLAM Educate yourself.

  2. 3 Tom K in Mpls
    August 11, 2009 at 20:13

    Anything that limits choices holds you back. Some are a good thing. But as for sexism, are you going to convert certain traditionalists and fundamentalists? Can you successfully tell them that their beliefs are wrong?

    Let me grab a beer, find a good seat, and enjoy the show.

    • 4 cinnamon
      August 13, 2009 at 00:25

      Tom can you justifiably tell us that their beliefs are right?

    • 5 Tom K in Mpls
      August 13, 2009 at 15:21

      Who is right can not be proven, that is my point. It is a philosophical debate. A question of core beliefs. What gives you or I the right to dictate what others should believe. If you try to change my beliefs you will meet strong resistance. I would hope others have the integrity and conviction to stand by their beliefs.

      I personally believe sexism is wrong. I am certain, over time, views both regionally and globally will change, and in most cases relax. But it must happen naturally, guidance, not clubbing.

  3. 6 T
    August 11, 2009 at 20:15

    Yes it is. In many countries women are still treated as second class because “that’s the way it’s always been.” Until that changes, other things won’t either.

  4. 7 gary
    August 11, 2009 at 20:15

    Why stop with Africa? In subtle ways and in blatant ways sexism is holding back the whole world.

  5. 8 Bert, Wash DC & Rome, Italy
    August 11, 2009 at 20:32

    Thing is, justiied or not, the student was probably NOT being overly sexist at all. It’s a plain fact that Bill was President for eight years, that is is her husband, and that his perspective might just be interewsting too. Who better to ask?

    Aside from that, I think it’s pretty clear that an overabundance of make chauvinism comes in more underdeveloped cultures, and that INCLUDES in certain demographic groups of first world countries too. And the truly perverse aspect of this is, the women are more often than not the real anchor that holds these cultures together!!

    • 9 Tom K in Mpls
      August 12, 2009 at 15:24

      While this is very plausible, it is equally plausible she has faced too much of this in the last few hours and was getting justifiably annoyed. While a bit short, she was correct.

  6. August 11, 2009 at 20:37

    The problem does not stop with sexism and chauvinism. Women are by and large the strength of any society, particularly in Africa where they are instrumental in maintaining a functional lifestyle in what is a very difficult continent to live. It comes as no surprise then, therefore, that campaigns of mass-rape are a common weapon of war utilized in the conflicts seen in Rwanda, Sudan, and the DR Congo.

  7. 11 Bert
    August 11, 2009 at 20:40

    I don’t think the student was necessarily being sexist, though. Like it or not, Bill Clinton was President for eight years. It is not incerdible that a student might have wondered about his opinions on something, and asked his WIFE what they might be.

    Hillary, on the other hand, has been Secretary of State for 7 months …

    I think more can be read into the question than warranted?

    But on the other hand, it seems that among the more “developing” cultures in the world, and that includes the more “developing” demographic groups within first world countries too, male chauvinism is perhaps more passionate than elsewhere. Perversely so, since women are more often than not the anchor that keeps these cultures together.

    Or maybe, that’s exactly the reason. In any event, I would NOT single out Africa for this phenomenon.

  8. 12 Rob (UK)
    August 11, 2009 at 20:41

    We may (or may not) find evidence that, on average, men in developing nations are more sexist than men in developed nations. But does sexism ‘hold back’ a nation, or does a nation ‘held back’ by other factors tend to be sexist? If it is the latter, educating men to be less sexist is unlikely to be useful.

    Educating people to be less xenophobic isn’t very successful, but if we improve the sanitation of an area (by introducing clean water) the population living in that area becomes less xenophobic. We may have to make similar counter-intuitive changes to alleviate sexism.

  9. 13 Abram
    August 11, 2009 at 22:04

    During the last Confederation Cup in South Africa, I heard many people complaining about the so-called “Vuvuzela” sound coming out of the stadiums, instead of talking about the wonderful organization and a perfect hospitality of South Africa. And then I asked myself, “is there anything good that non-Africans could say for a second?” Don’t you think we are into an unfair attitude and an exaggerated negativity towards Africa and Africans?

  10. 14 Ramesh, India
    August 12, 2009 at 02:09

    Quote: This is typical of men in the developing world.

    This is true in case of India too. But things are changing very fast, especially, among middle classes in which women play key role in families’ economic growth. 21st century India belongs to women, no matter how much resistance men would put. Having said that, I find it irritating to see certain women behaving like independent souls just because they learned to drive a scooter or a car. The mindset of women still has to undergo a lot of positive change. Else, there will be a lot of social consequences.

    • 15 leti in palma
      August 12, 2009 at 17:42

      @Ramesh, while agreeing with you that 21st c India/Africa/the world belongs to women, you seem to think that its the mindset of women that has to change..

      Don’t you think that it’s the MEN’S mindset that has to change in order for the women to have that chance?

  11. 16 VictorK
    August 12, 2009 at 09:12

    So “Africa” is a single country?

    So people know about every one of the hundreds of distinct cultures in Africa to make such a generalisation – or do all those cultures just happen to ‘look the same’?

    Any country that institutionalises discrimination against women is sexist and loses the benefits of their talents. I can think of few African countries that are sexist in that way. Social attitudes are another matter, but attitudes alone won’t present an insuperable barrier to a determined woman.

    This is one of those formulaic issues: positions that run against the grain of Western Liberalism are automatically the subject of critique, while we rarely or never hear people asking – more adventurously – if the feminist movement has damaged relations between the sexes in those societies where it has established itself.

    • 17 Tom K in Mpls
      August 13, 2009 at 15:28

      Feminism is a form of sexism with all of the same consequences. In essence it is the reflexive attack against male domination. And as with many reflexive actions, it is commonly excessive.

  12. 18 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 12, 2009 at 11:21

    Sexism isn’t the major factor holding Africa back. In fact it might be one part of a more complex multi-dimentional issue that has kept Africa back.

    Europe and the US have managed to develop quite well while being sexist and they still are, so to blame one factor for holding a continent back is facile and shows the lack of depth of the discussion.

  13. 19 Jason Davis
    August 12, 2009 at 12:25

    Sexism…holding Africa back?! Not at all. In fact, the majority of news about what holds Africa back is just propaganda. The west are holding Africa back. Corruption is holding Africa back. The IMF and World Banks are destroying Africa. They are too busy paying debts to ever be able to break even.

    Our leaders and a hidden agenda (which is becoming more visible) are what causes all the corruption and crime in this world. Thanks ALL of your world leaders for that. They are the real criminals here!

  14. 20 patti in cape coral
    August 12, 2009 at 13:14

    I agree with the first part of Deryck’s statement, I think sexism may be a part of many things that hold Africa back.

    As far as Europe and the US being sexist, I was about to say that I have never felt discriminated against as a woman, but when I think about it, I chose a profession that is mainly dominated by women, so how would I know? Also, I work in a neurosurgical office where all the neurosurgeons are men, and all the assorted support personnel, medical assistants, nurses, secretaries, transcriptionists, receptionists, etc., are all women. I jokingly told my co-worker that doctors enjoy being surrounded by subservient females. Now I’m wondering how much of a joke it really is.

  15. August 12, 2009 at 14:09

    I’m backing Deryck on this one. As far as I can gather from various outlets the main thing holding Africa back is the rank corruption in very high places.

  16. 22 akin iwilade
    August 12, 2009 at 15:26

    What is sexism anyway? the problem with the orthodox representation mantra being put up as the panacea to the marginalization of women is that it denies the existence of far deeper patterns of domination. Class. increasing the number of women in public office cannot solve marginalization. for one, these women do not often represent female voices as much as they represent the class that thrusts them forward. in the second place, they hardly ever champion gendered values while in office. Feminism is more of an industry for educated (western) women and civil society activists who feed fat on the vulnerability of the poor in africa. I am so sick of the commodification of every single social problem. akiniwilade.wordpress.com

  17. 23 patti in cape coral
    August 12, 2009 at 15:27

    Thinking about my previous statements, I chose to train for my job because I could do it at home while my children were young, and there is a certain amount of flexibility which allowed me to juggle work and family life, so discrimination had nothing to do with it in my case. Maybe that is why more women choose to be the assistant rather than the doctor? My daughter is at university and plans on delaying having children way longer than I did, so I’m sure that will make a difference in her career, as I think it will for future generations. As usual, most general statements don’t bear close examination, and I keep having to change my mind on things.

    • 24 Tom K in Mpls
      August 13, 2009 at 15:48

      Most things that people do are done because they are seen as practical. Practical choices are guided by the world around us. Most women choose to raise children. This sets certain physical limits and probabilities that employers and mothers have to evaluate. With newer technologies, many jobs are becoming more accommodating to this which is good for both parties.

  18. 25 Tamatoa
    August 12, 2009 at 15:36

    I’d like to agree with Gary. Sexism per se is holding the whole world back not just Africa. Man and woman are like two wings of a bird. Unless they are equally developed the world cannot reach its potential.
    The question is unfortunate. Rather than: IS Africa being held back by sexism? the discussion will and should be: In what way does sexism hold back Africa compared to the West and other societies?

    • 26 Maxine
      August 15, 2009 at 08:01

      If only it was that simple to say sexism if holding Africa back. The question should be, what is holding Africa back?

  19. August 12, 2009 at 15:38

    Who is taking part in the corruption? Is a corporation that pays a bribe less corrupt than the person who gets paid?

    What’s holding Africa back are the international corporations looting the continent of its resources. That’s what the wars in Congo are all about, and along with war comes sexism and brutality.

  20. August 12, 2009 at 15:49

    Africa isn’t held back just because of sexism. There are many aspects that make it the least developed continent. It has the lowest rate of education in terms of quality and quantity. This has an effect on how societies are run. When men and women are equal in terms of poverty and ignorance, there is no guarantee that the eradication of sexism can help the continent go forward.

    Women in Africa need protection. When there is a conflict, as in DR Congo, it’s they who pay first through rape and other forms of sexual exploitation.

    Africa should lay the basis for sustained development that makes both women and women in the same position to hold responsibility. Helping women become independent of the support of men by having jobs and influential posts can make sexism and underdevelopment drastically reduced

  21. 29 James Turner
    August 12, 2009 at 15:50

    IS SEXISM HOLDING AFRICA BACK? I think the question is so ridiculous it is hardly worth answering! The developed world is holding Africa back! It is just that simple! All Africans including the women could take their rightful place in the world society if the developed world would really help

    I’ve said this before! If just the United States put half of the resources we have wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan? How much better off would Africa be???????????????? It angers me when I see the human waste!

    As much as I like Mrs Clinton, and I do feel she was being disrespected, her visit is just for show. We have not really put up a good faith effort to help Africa! Never! Right up to this moment! It’s immoral to act as if we have! The world knows better, no one calls us on that fact! They’re just blacks! They don’t have a resource we can steal!

  22. 30 Mohammed Ali
    August 12, 2009 at 15:56

    I work for ActionAid Liberia and we are currently implementing a project title “Access to Justice for Women”. This project is seking to bring women in to the decision making process of the communities in the Southeastern part of Liberia.
    Africa is a sexist continent and we don’t value the contributions of women. Although here in Liberia we have Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president and she is doing very well in that position more than any man had eveer done, most men don’t just think she should be the president of liberia simply because she’s a lady.
    I think if women are given the chance to get to the hem of decision making, things could change for the better in Africa.

  23. 31 Elias
    August 12, 2009 at 16:06

    The mentality of countries in Africa and some muslim countries has not changed or progressed of the years they still live in the past and believe men are superior than women. They dont realise or accept that men are born out of women and that a woman’s place is in the home to work and bring up children.
    Consider World War 1 & 2, women in western countries hardly ever went out to work, men on the other hand were the bread earners and paid the household expences. During these wars because of the shortage of manpower, women were needed to do the work of men to fill the void. As a result women and men both worked so that the household expences were being paid by both men and women. Women found themselves more independant of men and slowly but surely came into prominance. Howevere the african countries still live in the middle ages and it is inhuman that they subjucate women in any and every way they can, It can only be described as barbaric and downright diabolical.

  24. 32 Anthony
    August 12, 2009 at 16:11

    Sexism has been in America since 1776, up until more recently, and we did pretty good. It’s just an excuse.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  25. August 12, 2009 at 16:13

    Hope am holding the best understanding of the term sexist and is it related to gender equality?
    well having spent sometimes in the UK in Scotland i think what is holding back Arfica is the Ancient cultural beliefs which are totaly not in line with the 21st century way of life, African Man most if not all still belief that a woman is a woman in the kitchen making food, looking after children, while they (man)do what they think is man-ish i.e watching football blu, blu blu!!!
    this has even deprived some poor african girls with lots of talent in certan sporting fields an opportunity to excell as it is stillbelieved girls will always be girls so as boys
    thank to the developing world as we have a countless number of female athletes participating in elite competitions let this gospel be preached through out reaching the rural areas of africa, let the boys and girls be afforeded equal opportunities especially in sports partake.
    to prove this i can take you to one part of swaziland whereyou can withness this your self,
    the feale participation in sports in africa has only reached the urbun areas which we need to spread across,
    being in scotland has totally changed my mindset and wish africa can adopt similar culture

  26. August 12, 2009 at 16:14

    Africa isn’t held back just because of sexism. There are many aspects that make it the least developed continent. It has the lowest rate of education in terms of quality and quantity. This has an effect on how societies are run. When men and women are equal in terms of poverty and ignorance, there is no guarantee that the eradication of sexism can help the continent go forward.

    Women in Africa don’t need just equality but also protection. When there is a conflict, as in DR Congo, it’s they who pay first through rape and other forms of sexual exploitation.

    Africa should lay the basis for sustained development that makes both men and women in the same position to hold responsibility. Helping women become independent of the support of men by having jobs and influential posts can make sexism and underdevelopment drastically reduced.

  27. 35 anu_D
    August 12, 2009 at 16:17

    Sexism in general holds back the progress of civilizations….but not the fundamental cause of lack of development.
    Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Iran and several other are very very prosperosu nations in terms of per capita and quality of life despite being the top sexist nations.

    That said the famous question posed to Hillary wasn’t indicative of a sexist mindset……but more of a naive, ignorant and probably dowright stupid one.

    Unfortunately Hillary stooped to the level of that question.

    Also on a scale of 100 of things holding Africa back…sexism contributes no more than 1%

  28. 36 Kakule kiza celestin
    August 12, 2009 at 16:40

    It should be right with a regrad to country social development, but all this is part african traditions. You know, many centuries back african women could never attend social important meetings they were considered to be under men’s authorities and under valued. But the trend is turning to considering them as equal to men, it is even a great fight up to now. However if we stare at biblical point of views, women are never and should never be considered equal to men, according to Paul and Peter’s scriptures somewhere in the Bible. One is the chief of the other…

  29. August 12, 2009 at 16:40

    I’m the blogger whose entry was mentioned in this particular article. Thanks for mentioning my blog, but I think in this case I think my argument is a bit out of context. You’re addressing sexism in Africa and I was addressing sexism in the United States, two completely different contexts, especially when one considers those African countries that have large Muslim populations. I’m an American and my blog is written from an American perspective. That said, I do think sexism is a serious problem in Africa, but are not as devastating a setback for Africa as government corruption, ethnic genocide, constant civil wars and violent border disputes.

    Not to say that the USA is completely free of sexism; it’s just that some Americans see their country as being far more sexist than it actually is. In fact, those people who see the U.S. as a sexist society should go to places like the DRC, Uganda, Chad, Rwanda or Sierra Leone to see what a truly sexist society looks like.

  30. 38 leo goki
    August 12, 2009 at 16:43

    sexism is holding back not only africa but the middle east because in these parts it is a cutural thing that women are dumber than men when will it sink into our heads that women interlectually equal to men it is only the physical srenght that differs i grew up with 2 older sisters and i can say without a doubt when it comes to a question of inerlect my money will nbe on my sisters.

  31. 39 Auspicious
    August 12, 2009 at 16:43

    It is absurd to confine sexism to the African man. If at all this is true, then we couldnt have had an English term for sexism. For all i know sexism grips us all European and non European. It is not right to isolate the DRC example and apply it on the continent. Isnt it the same reason why Hillary failed to make it for nominations for presidency during the primaries?

  32. 40 NSC London
    August 12, 2009 at 16:43

    In part, sexism persists because women allow it to persist. Whether its the glass ceiling, prolonged domestic abuse, etc. we women are often complicit in our own subjugation.

  33. 41 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    August 12, 2009 at 16:48

    African women suffer discriminations from African man, yes.What of African man who suffers from misinterpretations of freedom by their wives?.There are many issues to talk about Africa especially in they areas of CORRUPTIOZ!,democracy,diseases,wars,inter-religious/tribals violent,education and humanrights than just talking about the world issue such as sexist.Women & men in Africa faced a common challenges $ a common sollutiosn in our daily lives.

  34. 42 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 12, 2009 at 16:54

    @Jason Davis


    Everyone knows poor leadership and corruption hold Africa back but don’t miss this one:

    It’s insidious in nature. The worst of them are IMF and World Bank loans and the austere measures that prevent development, stymie education, immobilise health care, devalue their currency, add value added tax(vat), raise taxes, introduce free markets, privatise state owned companies, remove farmers subsidies so they can’t compete and they go out of business, increase electicity and water rates. I CAN GO ON BUT THE LIST IS TO LONG!

    The aim is to develop plantation economies among poor nations that would provide the raw material for the continued industrializtion of the first world.


    • 43 Tom K in Mpls
      August 13, 2009 at 15:58

      Plantations are a great start for Africa, but only a start. You need to take steps to march ahead. Take the money from the plantations to build schools and diversify business. The only way to grow is to develop a broad, stable economy.

  35. 44 rob z.
    August 12, 2009 at 16:54

    Sexist attitudes are based on religious and tribal influences of the past.The world ,as a whole,is still stuck in these old world-social order of things.
    True equality is still a new concept to humans in general.Even in developed countries,true equality has not been achieved in it’s true definition.
    Sexism,classism,racism share the same desired goal;control and power over others.
    Rob in Florida.

  36. 45 Bert
    August 12, 2009 at 16:55

    I agree with those who doubt that sexism per se is holding Africa back. After all, as many claimed, we had plenty of sexism in the West too, and that didn’t seem to stop progress.

    But last night I came up with a scenario that COULD have unfolded, similar to the student asking Hillary about Bill’s opinion on China. I would absolutely have LOVED to ask George W, back in 2003, what his father thought about his idea to invade Iraq. Or maybe, I would have said “I can’t believe that your father agreed with this operation.”

    No doubt, that would have been similarly rude, but I would have loved to know anyway.

  37. 46 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 12, 2009 at 17:01

    @patti in cape coral

    I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your mind think below the surface of apperances.
    In the West sexism isn’t very overt again it’s subtle, tacit and my favourite word of the day insidious. Don’t get paranoid but carefully and analytically examine the institutions around you.

    • 47 patti in cape coral
      August 12, 2009 at 17:29

      Thanks, Deryck, it’s funny you tell me not to get paranoid, because I think that is exactly what I was feeling! I was just thinking that maybe men in other countries just feel more free to say aloud what a lot western men feel in secret.

  38. 48 archibald
    August 12, 2009 at 17:13

    @ anthony
    Spoken like a true male chauvinist.

    @ Victork
    While I see the potential legitimacy of your adventurous query, supposing feminism to be, in some way, responsible for the greater divide between the sexes. Feminism came in response to the deplorable treatment and subjugation of women who, in many ways, were the strength behind many men who have been credited with so much of world development, (some deserving and some not). Yet, they had to fight to be recognized, because, men were too caught up with their prestige and legacy to admit that they in fact needed women to make it all work. Last I checked, men still cannot conceive children and are thus, up the creek without a paddle when it comes to actual nation building and civilization establishment (no babies, no world to govern). As brave as many men have been, there is far greater strength in those who can create (women) and not lord it over those who cannot.

  39. 49 Chintan in Houston
    August 12, 2009 at 17:17

    It is true in the developing world men are sexist but in the western world the older male population i.e. over 50 year age group are definitely sexist as well. They are just getting used to seeing more working women among them which was not the case when they had just entered in the work force which was more like boy scouts. As a result of this the rules against sexual harrasment, code of ethics at work/school came so later on, even with all those laws lawsuits and complaints are filed everyday because of women being illtreated by men. So, this might not be an African problem but I do agree it is more prevent across developing nations across Africa and Asia.

    This is a cultural thing and it takes time to change, even in a country like Switzerland women were stopped from being able to vote until 1971 by men or the ruling party, to shut them out for so long is very sexist.
    France has been known to be a patriarchal society as well, as agreed by the French finance minister who is a woman herself when she came on the Fareed Zakaria show GPS on CNN a few weeks ago.

    Is there really a difference between sexism in general and living in a patriarchal society?

    Also refer to this article, http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/45/63/37964630.pdf very interesting information about women in various parliamentsa around the world.

  40. 50 leti in palma
    August 12, 2009 at 17:25

    Interesting that most of the responses so far are from men.
    Having travelled a fair bit in African countries, I’d say that sexism there is endemic.
    African women are the ones who do most of the work!

    We (in europe) have only just begun to crawl out from under the “macho” world view, and it would be naive to state that things were better before women’s so-called emancipation, right to vote, to education, employment etc etc

    Having said that, I don’t think that the ONLY problem on the african continent is men’s attitude to women. The endemic corruption of the ruling classes and the western word’s greed is a contributing factor to the slowness of development.

    How to solve that? Well,a good start would be to give more girls access to education, its a known fact that since women are the main educators of their children, they would at least have a chance to learn and then teach the following generations.

    Perhaps then, men would realise that having strong, literate and capable women around is actually an asset, and not a threat to their “manhood”.

  41. August 12, 2009 at 17:26

    Hi WHYyers,


    Ros, Africa may be an inherently partriachal society but in a very respectable way towards women. Of course by saying this am not including the mass rapes and women mistreatment in conflict zones all over the continent because that is not part of our cultural orientation and has never been.

    But in a normal African society, the woman’s place may be the kitchen but not in a condescending or disrespectful manner. And that is natural by the way not restrictive to Africa, its just that some societies are ahead of others in being ‘enlightened’ and and in ‘equality’ issues.

    True, women are largely in the periphery when it comes to leadership, but I beg to disagree that has to do with chauvinism across the board.

    Am not about to give a sermon so I will try calling in during the show……..

  42. August 12, 2009 at 17:29

    Salaam… These days I am having my surgical rotation at Baghdad Teaching Hospital, and I can say with a complete confidence that for 85% of my male superiors, if you were a female med student who dresses and puts make-up in a provocative or let’s say an attractive way, then life would be so much easier for you and your male superiors will happily volunteer to show you stuff or answer any questions that you might be having… I happen to be a Baghdadi female med student that practices Islam and dresses modestly, but do you guys wanna know why I get my way in the midst of this scary male jungle ?! It’s because my male superiors think that the way that I speak English is attractive, yeah that’s right, it’s not because I am intelligent or capable or anything, to them female med students are just like pretty barbies or dolls who happen to freshen up and add some flavour to their harsh times as Iraqi surgeons, and even if you answer all of their questions right then that doesn’t matter, b/c to them you’ll always be a doll… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

    • 53 patti in cape coral
      August 12, 2009 at 18:11

      Salaam Lubna! it is good to hear from you again and congratulations on your studies. I just wondered, does this attitude toward female medical students change once they are full-fledged doctors? Also, what is the patient’s attitude toward female doctors?

  43. August 12, 2009 at 17:40

    I totaly disagree, its unfair to isolate africa as a sexist continent.africa is being held back by Corruption, Bad governance, Multi-national CORPORATION,WORLDBANK ,IMF and many more but sexisms is not even in the top 20.

    • 55 cinnamon
      August 13, 2009 at 00:17

      Abiy that sounds like exactly the type of rhetoric that prevents all of us from dealing with the issue at hand – we are talking about sexism here – the common practice of the subordination of women to men in all spheres in African society, it happens, men treat women poorly, to put it mildly. Women are denied educational and employment opportunities because they are women and because most men cannot handle women doing better than men. Almost all African countries are patriarchal societies – yes even trendsetting South Africa which simply put translates: women are inferior to men in all ways!! This isn’t because of the IMF or World Bank or multinational corporations nor bad governance (yes they are vices and they hurt African countries) but this is our doing and we need to address this issue in order to deal with it and start making changes – when you talk about corruption, bad governance, IMF etc you are deflecting and denying. African countries are sexist deal with it!!

  44. 56 Peter
    August 12, 2009 at 17:43

    BBC seems to be a mouth piece for feminist cause. The British dads must be a lousy dads. Every opportunity to take a jab at men is never wasted. Sexism does not hold back a country. As they say, behind every good man ,there is a good woman. So if your dad is lousy blame your mum as well. To have a good progressive country there must be a good woman behind a good man. Yes behind . Woman who wants to stand in front of a man is never i good woman. Many great nation is lead by a man with a good woman behind.

  45. 57 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    August 12, 2009 at 17:45

    Sexism is holding Africa back. Belief in witchcraft is holding Africa back. Corruption is holding Africa back. Denial about the facts of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS is holding Africa back. 21st Century weapons in the hands of people with 18th Century mindsets are holding Africa back. Tribalism is holding Africa back.

    Barack Obama is only one generation away from his African roots. Africa’s problems are not due to race; rather, they are due to attitude and culture. Against all the odds, there ARE some Africans who are trying to pull themselves and their countrymen up by their bootstraps. May godspeed.

  46. 58 Halima
    August 12, 2009 at 17:53

    I think sexism is a key reason – not the only one, but a key to why it is underdeveloped. The attitude of men to women and the acceptance of women for behaviour of men underpins many of the problems – which lead to corruption – the idea that power, wealth and status are priority.

  47. 59 nora
    August 12, 2009 at 17:56

    The arming of Africa by Henry Kissinger and his Soviet counterparts to fight their war by proxy and the blind eye to AIDS in the early days have given us the era of rape and mutilation that parts of Africa have experienced. I am glad that our current Secretary of State is forthright about the cost to the victims, if not the cause. By engaging in snippy dinner table democracy with the questioner, Hilary Clinton helped change the dialog by making it clear that an imperfect person represents an imperfect nation of persons. No queen here, just a person fed up with men telling women they are simply vessels for someone else’s thoughts. Perhaps it could be a first step down from neo-colonialism. Sex and class are intricately bound.

    M. ALI made the future of Africa seem brighter today with his post. Men like him make all the difference.

  48. 60 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    August 12, 2009 at 18:02

    Per Fagereng said that it’s the international corporations looting the continent of its resources who are culpable for Africa’s problems. Per, to be sure, the corporations share responsibility. However, just as black Africans were complicit in the slave trade of centuries gone by, black Africans who are actually taking today’s resources out of the ground and passing them on to the corporations share complicity. The person who buys a Conflict Diamond is also culpable.

    Heaping all the blame on “the international corporations” is simplistic, unhelpful and immature. The blame reaches much further afield than the multinationals, and until all the guilty parties are named, shamed and corrected, the problems will continue unabated..

  49. 61 steve
    August 12, 2009 at 18:02

    If you look at Japan, they are not know for being politically correct, there is “sexism” there, they don’t strive for diversity, and it’s got one of the highest standards of living, very little crime, and has a huge economy despite not having many natural resources.

  50. 62 Vijay
    August 12, 2009 at 18:07

    Is Sexism holding Africa back?

    Whilst sexism,equality and the fight against inequality is important,economic development is the priority,once wealth is created it can be distributed into education and healthcare etc..

    Even in the UK womens equality is a recent pratice.

    The USA still does not have an Equal Rights Amendment ratified.

  51. 63 John in Salem
    August 12, 2009 at 18:08

    Sexism is a product of ignorance on the part of women and fear on the part of men. It is taught to children by both sexes and in that regard the nations of Africa hold no corner on stupidity.
    Sexism anywhere holds everyone back.

  52. 64 Lisa from Pennsylvania, US
    August 12, 2009 at 18:09

    I don’t even know how this is an argument, the whole reason Hillary Clinton was in that area was to express condemnation of the rapes that took place. If women are being raped by men then clearly the men look down on them and of course that would stunt social progress in the area.

  53. 65 sal
    August 12, 2009 at 18:11

    from the stories i hear from that continent i cant help but agree with that comment,seems like a very backward place

  54. 66 Kareem
    August 12, 2009 at 18:12

    I think it’s something that is prevalent in some countries in Africa but not in others. Take Angola for example where 40% of the Angolan Parliament are women. It’s obvious that many women are treated as second class or rather lesser than citizens, but definitely not systematic in all African men.

  55. 67 steven from Malawi in Tampa FL USA
    August 12, 2009 at 18:13

    Having grown up in Malawi in a family of a single boy and 3 sisters. I noted that my Parents had a high expectation for all of us. Fast forward a couple of years the ladys are on a path to becoming the whose who of society with my youngest sister in her final year in Medical School. I always tell my sisters that there is always going to be sexism out there that should always give you an opportunity to show them that you can do it better. Let the surprise be on them.

    I have a lot of respect for women and support Mrs Clinton 100%. In regards to development not only do men look down on women but the society at large including women especially in Africa.

  56. 68 Anthony
    August 12, 2009 at 18:13

    @ women speaking

    It is third world, and any poorer place in the world. You can even look at the poor parts of the U.S. It’s about lack of education.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  57. 69 Keith- Ohio
    August 12, 2009 at 18:15

    Sexism is one of many factors that holds back Africa as well as many other countries. Until a country accepts that women as are just as mentally capable as men, and these women are given the same rights and treatment, the country’s inability to advance culturally is reinforced.

    I’m not sure why that woman on the air is losing her temper at the man who observed sexism. They both seem to agree that there is still sexism in Africa.

  58. 70 John
    August 12, 2009 at 18:18

    Hillary Clinton reacted poorly to her translator’s error. The correct translation of the question was asking about Barrack Obama’s (her Boss) views, and NOT about that of her husbands. The correct question that was posed to Mrs. Clinton was relevant, and directed towards her employers feelings, and not directed towards her spouse. The media has missed what actually occurred. This story has become another over reaction in the media, and now in the general population. The original question was not sexist; it was simply directed towards Hilary’s knowledge of her employer’s feelings.

    John G.
    Albany Oregon USA

    • 71 Keith- Ohio
      August 12, 2009 at 18:48

      @ John-

      just because someone claimed that the question was about Obama doesn’t mean that it actually was. We cannot hear the student in the recording, only the translator. The translator pauses, and then puts emphasis on “Mr. CLINTON”. You don’t mistranslate the word Obama and say Clinton, in any language…it’s a proper noun.

      Whether the question was mistranslated or not, the fact is that the translator asked her about her husband’s opinion, and her reaction was appropriate. She can’t be expected to know when her translator is making an error or not.

    • 72 Tom K in Mpls
      August 13, 2009 at 16:04

      The translation may have been wrong, that is one issue. The other issue is how Mrs. Clinton responded to what was put to her. I agree it is waaaay too much play, but it is valid.

  59. 73 Tom K in Mpls
    August 12, 2009 at 18:21

    As I’ve stated before, for the African nations to prosper, first you need a stable government. Next you need to develop an infrastructure to support number three, a broad based economy. While sexism can be an issue, debating this is like worrying about a well that won’t stop flowing in a monsoon flood.

  60. August 12, 2009 at 18:22

    In the 21st century, one would expect men to treat women equally. But sadly in many parts of the world men treat women shabbily. Sexism is very evident in many parts of Africa, Asia and some parts of Europe. Emancipation is still a far cry. Equality of opportunity is a human right. However prejudices still hold sway. Even in enlightened Belgium men are paid more than women in certain professions.

  61. 75 Zach
    August 12, 2009 at 18:22

    From the United States here.

    Not only Africa, but the entire world is held back by sexism and racism.

    Sticking to the current issue, sexism, and misogyny more specifically, is something that the entire world must battle. We have such deep roots in misogyny due to the ideals that are derived from two of the largest religions in the world, Islam and Christianity. We are all held back due to the view that women are inferior to men. It is something that must be addressed and dealt with.

    There should not have to be laws that require equal opportunities to women. These laws cause a double-bind due to the fact that they allow women the opportunities, but they also breed disdain in men who feel that they are passed over due to the laws.

  62. 76 Todd in Atlanta
    August 12, 2009 at 18:24

    As an African I’ve always found it so hard to have discussions with other Africans (and Afro-centric Americans) about issues like this.
    Mainly because there are too many people who cowardly hide behind their hypersensitivities, and get all offended before a conversation can get anywhere.

    I’ve grown up watching various Africans speak openly about not allowing women to vote, not letting them have high positions in business, and so forth. This attitude just shows the world that too many of our men are highly insecure and emotionally immature.

    This is one of numerous negative issues that plague Africa, and like it or not, needs to be dealt with in order to progress.

  63. 77 Deonne Morris
    August 12, 2009 at 18:24

    Sexism is every where. The extent to which the views it is mainly dependent on who presents it and the economic wealth wealth of the country in question. I live in Jamaica. Sexism isnt as it has been pronounced by Paul.

  64. August 12, 2009 at 18:25

    Yesterday, BBC Worldservice reported that the question posed to Ms. Clinton was mistranslated, and that the question was about Obama’s opinion. If that is the case, this question is about a tempest in a teapot. Who cares if H.C. throws a fit? Of course sexism is alive and well in Africa, and everywhere else too — and it will be for a long time to come, like racism, ageism, and every other kind of discrimination conceivable (I am reminded of Gulliver’s Travels, and the Big-endians vs. the Little-endians) … if we were all nearly identical, we would discriminate against each other based on whatever minutia was available. It’s not just a human trait: other creatures reject members of their own species over perceived differences, and I believe there is a survivalist motive involved. Members of the ‘herd’ are best rejected so that their ‘deformities’ are not passed to the next generation, etc. None of this justifies gender discrimination of course, but it should be understood that it persists, and is likely to continue to do so into the foreseeable future, no matter how repugnant we may find it.

    tMC – Toronto, Canada

    • 79 Tom K in Mpls
      August 12, 2009 at 20:51

      Survivalist philosophy may well fit. Assuming that instinctively it is best for females to devote their energies to bearing and raising young. That could explain much. Then comes the next question, does technology and social organization override this requirement? Personally, I think it does, but I have been wrong before.

      I too think social ‘isms’ are silly. Far too much time and hot air is wasted on pointing out so many of these cases of stupidity.

    • 80 cinnamon
      August 13, 2009 at 00:05

      So mike after so thoroughly pointing out the problem and taking us through time – pray tell what is/are possible solutions, do we just let everything stay the way it is? do nothing all in the name of (was it Darwin that said) evolution?

  65. 81 Gloria
    August 12, 2009 at 18:25

    Of course sexism holds Africa back. NGOs concentrating on educating women find that the birth rate declines. Microcredit concentrating on women has proved highly successful.

  66. 82 rebecca
    August 12, 2009 at 18:25

    The angry woman, Pauline, seems confused between protecting outside opinions of her race/continent and discussing the plight of women in developing countries/the world.

    Sexism carries far beyond developing nations, but the severity of the situation in places that use rape as a war tactic, female genital mutilation as ‘cultural’ practice, and the greater strength of the male as a way to ultimately enforce the situation is a glaring example. These practices are more common in Africa and the middle east than elsewhere, though men, in general, are rather beastly and how to address their behavior seems to be the problem, to me.

  67. 83 Rebecca Schultz
    August 12, 2009 at 18:26

    Sexism is alive and well in all aspects of American society–women still have to work twice as hard to access and maintain positions of power. However, I do believe that in the private realm we have made great strides in the division of labor within the home and family realms. I do feel that, based on my brief experience, women in the African countries I’ve visited are way behind the US in this realm. Is it keeping the countries back? Don’t know. I think governance is more of a key, but women’s rights have to advance, a lot.

  68. 84 Anthony
    August 12, 2009 at 18:26

    How has my country (USA) been effected by sexism? Here, women get jobs who shouldn’t have them, but a company doesn’t want to be dubbed “sexist” now do they.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 85 rebecca
      August 12, 2009 at 18:42

      lots of men get jobs who shouldn’t have them too. What’s your true point? I know lots of women firefighters, for example, who do their job at least as well as their male counterparts. Is that the type of job you are talking about?

  69. 86 Chintan in Houston
    August 12, 2009 at 18:26

    I totally agree with the woman from Kenya on air living in a patriarchal society promotes sexism.
    Also, the woman from Kenya said, ‘that might happen in rural area of Kenya”, so is she saying if it happens in rural areas its ok as long as it doesn’t happen in the cities. Does she forget most of the African continent still lives in the rural areas, they have a very small urban population.

  70. 87 Xavier
    August 12, 2009 at 18:28

    Sexism is just one of the problems hampering progress in Africa along with nepotism, tribalism, corruption largely because with the exception of Ghana (which is matrilineal), all other African societies are Patrilineal.

  71. 88 nora
    August 12, 2009 at 18:29

    Mutual care between men and women IS culture.

    Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama fighting it out for President revealed our US truth: despite our history of racism, the US is still more sexist than racist. Obama, an African son, is President and Clinton is his Secretary of State.

    A powerful secretary, but still a secretary….

  72. 89 Gamadid
    August 12, 2009 at 18:29

    in some extent I would say yes, because the fact that alot of women are not treated equally, or getting the right educations as men do. today we alot of alot of women not participating crucial issues that determines their way of life. not only that, but also there are too many sterotypes exsist in africa that can hinder the progress of women’s right in africa.

  73. 90 Herbb
    August 12, 2009 at 18:31

    Tembi is totally delusional. I am an African Man and African man are sexist. There are a few who have lived outside Africa may hold views that are supportive of women and in most cases it is because the women are more assertive and know their rights within the countries they have taken residence. Even women in leadership will tell you of the experiences they go through on a daily basis. I believe women are naturally paternalistic and that trait helps in leadership and could be useful in Africa. There would not be all these dictators holding on to power for as long as they do. That is true with any society but more so with Africa because it is the only continent so far behind of everyone else.

  74. 91 Gloria
    August 12, 2009 at 18:35

    I can’t help but believe that had we not elected an untested inexperienced male over Hillary Clinton, we would be closer to health care reform on a meaningful level

    • 92 Todd in Atlanta
      August 12, 2009 at 18:53

      You assume Hillary Clinton would have been more successful at getting health care reform passed, than Obama, this time around. I’m going to completely disagree with you, mainly because the usual suspects that just venomously despise Mrs. Clinton are still out there, and I can’t help thinking that they were ready to pounce on every move she’d make, had she won. Since 1994, she’s got a raw deal from her detractors, and I hate that.

      I do hope she runs again after Obama has served his term, because after being a First Lady, Senator, and now Secretary of State, she will truly be a powerhouse, and no matter what those idiot right-wingers say, they will be seen as what they truly are… fools.

  75. 93 steve
    August 12, 2009 at 18:38

    Again, what’ I’m hearing is that women are only a tiny % of CEOs and top positions. But do women only seek equality at the top? What % of the janitors for these corporations are women?

  76. 94 Keith- Ohio
    August 12, 2009 at 18:39

    Sexism is present everywhere, but at different levels. While it seems true that sexism is more of a problem in less developed countries, it is difficult to determine whether sexism is a cause or simply a symptom of this limited development. Correlation does not always mean causation. Cultural development is certainly limited by sexism, but economic development is up for debate.

  77. 95 Anthony
    August 12, 2009 at 18:42

    @ archibald

    How does that make me a chauvinist? Did I say sexism was good? Jumping to conclusions like a true stereotypical feminist.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  78. 96 steve
    August 12, 2009 at 18:44

    IF women are a majority in kenya, 52% of the population, but women aren’t elected in those numbers, you blame sexism? The sexism of the women who vote for men? In a democracy, you cannot force people to vote for certain candidates. People vote for who they want in a democracy. it’s not democratic to mandate that 52% of representatives have to be of a certain sex.

    • 97 Tom K in Mpls
      August 12, 2009 at 21:05

      Wow, I agree with steve! A better aspect to point out is that it is obvious that the women are just as guilty at not voting for women, assuming equal opportunity to vote. So are they guilty of sexism against themselves?

  79. August 12, 2009 at 18:46

    What a misguided question! Sexism is not the biggest issue holding back the nations of Africa. It certainly is a concern and problem but not nearly the most significant.

    What must be said is that sexism often occurs amongst women themselves, especially within pluralistic, democratic countries such as the U.S.

  80. 99 steve
    August 12, 2009 at 18:46

    @ Rebecca

    That’s untrue. In the US, in mig cities, young women earn more than young men, until about age 30. Why does it end around thirty? Because women start quitting their jobs to have families or switching to part time. Sorry if the facts don’t mesh with your views.


  81. 100 John in Salem
    August 12, 2009 at 18:50

    Comments here that America has done pretty well in spite of sexism creates an interesting picture in my mind – a group of people crossing a wasteland, the women pushing the wagon and the men walking alongside. At the end of the day the men say, “Well, that worked pretty good – look how far we’ve come”.

  82. 101 cugel
    August 12, 2009 at 18:51

    How is sexism influencing different parts of the world?
    The islamic world:
    Nahed Selim lives in the Netherlands nowadays but when she grew up in the fifties in Egypt women were dressed in Western dress. Now her sisters who still live there and their female children who come of age have to completely cover themselves.

    In the islamic world there is a turning back to more fundamental islam. In Afghanistan and other extreme moslim countries they try to prevent female children going to school.

    Because the religious people can refer to the Koran as a source of undiluted knowledge that can never be changed anyone trying to advance the cause of women can be classed as anti islam. Also because of the extreme violence that fanatical islam nowadays resorts to (throwing acid in women’s faces, suicide bombings) I think that the islamic world can be seen as the part of the world that is most holding women back.

  83. August 12, 2009 at 18:56

    Many women in America are the bread winners in the family. Men work at manufacturing and construction and have lost their jobs. Women who work in offices still have their jobs. Many women are getting better jobs than their spruces and therefore wear the pants in the family. This has nothing to do with strength but the ambitions women have to succeed that some men lack.

  84. August 12, 2009 at 18:58

    I believe some of the discussion on air misses the point of the issue. Is there sexism in Africa? Yes, as there is everywhere. The question is does it hold back development? The answer there, and everywhere, has to also be yes.
    I just returned from a meeting of judges in Oregon where the focus was on improving the court and social services role in improving the lives of children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Oregon has made huge improvements and is in the process of even larger improvements. These improvements have been largely led by women judges. 20 years ago there were few women judges. Now there is a significant number and many of those who serve have focused their effort on child welfare cases. It was obvious at our meeting that almost all the judges leading these improvements are women judges.
    My point, then, is that it is not just about numbers, it is about the quality, dedication and passion women bring, in this example, to the critical area of child welfare. Our judiciary is unquestionably better because women are present and involved. So the inverse must also be true: that all aspects of society fail to benefit from the involvement of women if sexism keeps them out of positions that would allow them to influence important issues. And certainly child welfare is one of the most important, no matter the location in the world.

  85. 104 Michael
    August 12, 2009 at 18:58

    One caller said that there is men’s jobs and women’s jobs…

    I agree with this on some levels.

    Man and Women are physically and mentally different creatures…. We can not deny this, therefore it must be true that some jobs will suit women and men differently.

    In saying this I think that most jobs can be done equally by both women and men.

    I think sexism would hold any country back if it was a problem but it also depends on which way…. Are we talking purely economic?

    • 105 Tom K in Mpls
      August 12, 2009 at 21:12

      Women make better astronauts. Under the unique conditions they can do just as much work. They usually weigh less which saves launch fuel and saves on air recycling. And their bodies are about 25% more efficient in consuming food which also saves fuel or extends how long they can stay.

  86. 106 John
    August 12, 2009 at 18:59


    Please calm yourself on the air, you have excellent points but your rhetoric is lost on people who would agree with you. Africa is held back by the limitations of women, but it certainly isn’t the only cause.

    And not all men are conspiring to restrict womens’ rights different but equal should be the note for the day.

  87. 107 cugel
    August 12, 2009 at 19:05

    Several women in the Netherlands are fighting to change these attitudes but political correctness sometimes prevents them being heard.
    (Comments are kept “awaiting moderation” till the discussion is over)

  88. 108 anne
    August 12, 2009 at 19:06

    Rachel was excellent today. She was calm and did not incite her guests to fight. Not “jerry springerish” at all. Good job!

  89. August 12, 2009 at 19:22

    One amazing thing I’ve observed is that, the women’s worst enemies are fellow women. Women mostly prefer a male boss. When a woman becomes highly successful, the most vicious critics are women. Women need to deal with that first.

    Lovemore Nanjaya,

  90. 110 Savane, Nairobi
    August 12, 2009 at 19:40

    I really wanted to talk today, but telecomms are letting me down!!

    I’m a 42-year black, married, educated woman in Nairobi whose climbed the corporate ladder (fighting most of the way up) and then chose to be a stay-home mum and focus on my family for the last 5 years. I’m now in the process of setting up my own business.

    Sexism is alive all over the world, not just Africa. Is it as bad as it used to be? No! But we need to keep moving forward.

    As a corporate executive, I was constantly challenged to prove my worth. It never stopped me from reaching the top and I faced sexism from men from all races.

    As a stay-home mum, I now face the challenge of having to ‘channel my husband’ from men and women! My current job’s harder (and sometimes scarier) than any corporate job I have ever held! Stop the house-wife bashing please! I’m moulding Kenya’s future!

    We have two daughters – they hold their own in and outside school and the interesting thing that I have noticed lately is the boys don’t seem to have the same passionate drive the girls have!

    There’s room for all of us!

  91. August 12, 2009 at 19:40

    Pauline is exagerating. Women do get a chance. In Zambia, girls have lower pass marks in both Primary and Secondary School. If a man and a woman apply for a job, a woman has a better chance. . This kind of talk causes other women to play victim.

    • 112 Tom K in Mpls
      August 12, 2009 at 21:17

      If those that face the lower standards do get chosen first, you are in serious trouble. Somehow I think you are wrong.

  92. 113 bob nuwagira
    August 12, 2009 at 19:46

    what is sexism in this sense? from the way i am perceving it, it seems as an advocate for the 50-50 situation between the men and the women! if that is the situation it will not be sexism holding africa back.

  93. August 12, 2009 at 19:56

    Sexism is not what is pulling Africa down. Sexism exists everywhere in the world yet other continents are more developed.

  94. 115 gadri-darrah wisdom
    August 12, 2009 at 20:22

    on the contary i dont think Africa is not mans world,
    Quote from a british female friend Africa is a haven for the woman….this is to to it is the womens world here in africa,i personally do not understand why it has to be such a big dael,afterall sexism can be found every where in the world.so i dont think that is what is pulling Africa back on the contrary.

  95. August 12, 2009 at 21:28

    So what is sexism?

    One Ugandan radio station has special phone-in lines strictly for WOMEN callers, supposedly because too many MEN keep calling in and congesting the lines! Is this SEXISM? Or is it EQUAL opportunity?

    Do WOMEN need special provisions to accomplish anything now days? I’m quite certain that non-passive women who really wanted to voice their opinions on radio, could just queue up like everyone else and hope to have their say!

    I believe in EQUAL opportunity and no SEXISM, but WOMEN should not always need special rights or props to get into work, leadership, and call-in to radio stations.

    Sexism in Africa is not any worse than anywhere else in the world, only that African’s do not feel the need to pretend about it.

    Of course it is a changing world!

  96. 117 Abram
    August 12, 2009 at 21:50

    Thanks BBC for invitintg the Icelandic guest to your show. Well, Iceland is Europe’s Whitest and most racially homogeneous country, with a population of under 300000, one of the sparsely populated places on Earth, and a country where women enjoy the same legal rights as men like no other second country in the world. Yet, Iceland is in the worst finanical and economic crisis in its history. What could be the reason? Race? Overpopulation? Women?

  97. 118 archibald
    August 12, 2009 at 21:54

    If I have to choose, I will take feminism over apathy, though I do not think that condemning ignorant and dismissive rhetoric makes a clear distinction of my leanings, ultimately.
    You also said, “it’s just an excuse”. It is easy for men to say that it is just an excuse because they have enjoyed a priority status in most societies thus far. You did not say that it was good, but, you did not say that things should be different either. Why should the responsibility be on women to overcome. That is just like saying to blacks that slavery is just an excuse and the subsequent effects it has had on them since before 1776 is just the reality, so deal with it.
    It is just a lazy approach to the overall issue. I will amend my previous statement and say spoken like a typical lazy minded male.

  98. 119 cinnamon
    August 13, 2009 at 00:34

    I am doing a human rights course at Master’s level and the class consists of students from all over Africa and my class contains some of the most chauvinistic men that i have ever come across. Part of our programme involves learning about gender equality, womens rights etc and six months into our programme the men still retain that superiority complex that dictates that a womans place is in the kitchen, she is meant to bear children and be seen but not heard and women are sex objects, worse still a number of the women in class explicitly and implicitly support this notion. Some of the most disrespectful comments about women have been made by my fellow classmates and we are almost done with our course, which begs the question: if the human rights activists – men and women, retain views and opinions that perpetuate the subserviance of women and support patriarchal societies what hope is there for change?
    And please don’t tell me it’s not all men, my whole life i’ve been surrounded by men who are sexist, chauvinistic and patriachal especially because it serves them, there are a few exceptions but way too few and even those who claim to not be sexist or patriarchal (case in point my classmates) are just that when all is said and done. Yes sexism is holding Africa back.

  99. 120 Kindi Jallow
    August 13, 2009 at 00:40

    In the beginning there was specialisation or segregation of duties between men and women. While men go for farming, hunting and fetching firewood the women prepare the food take care of the children and do the household jobs. The rules can be change if the women can promise us that they can hustle it out and bring food for the family whilst the men take responsibility of thechildren at home and do the household jobs. There is no point to up a quarrel in these isssues as we are patners in development.

  100. 121 Dennis Junior
    August 13, 2009 at 01:47

    Pretty much, yes, Sexism is holding back Africa from maturing into a “success” contient…..

    =Dennis Junior=

  101. August 13, 2009 at 08:27

    A country , a community, a society that does not give the same chances to choose and succeed to men and women ,decides to run half speed in all the fields.

  102. 123 Beaufort
    August 13, 2009 at 09:14

    I’m afraid it goes beyond simply ‘holding a country back’ in the
    case of Africa. The astonishing corruption and brutal slaughter
    of women and children, the mindless use of violence and
    ethnic bullying reflect a prevailing definition of being a man
    in Africa dependent on an assault weapon in the hand and/or
    a woman on her back. If it were otherwise there would be
    avenues of compassion and understanding which would bring
    peace and prosperity. It is often women who bring these
    values and characteristics to human life by their nature everywhere
    but alas, in Africa they are stifled by the above mindset of most
    African men.

  103. 124 Roberto
    August 13, 2009 at 10:48

    RE “” Is a macho mentality holding the continent back? “”

    —————- It’s an immature cowards mentality that adopts the code of criminal cults and gangs killing and maiming unarmed civilians.

    Africa has produced a few GREAT boxing champions and gentlemen, Dick Tiger and Azumah Nelson come to mind here, but most Africans I’ve run across seem more interested in exploiting the dog eat dog status quo, often even denying the problems that drove them out of their own countries.

  104. 125 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 13, 2009 at 11:10

    @ cinnamon

    Would you say sexism is the foremost reason that holds Africa back from sustainable development and it becoming an economic powerhouse.

  105. 126 Henry Nyakoojo, Kampala
    August 13, 2009 at 12:43

    What really is “sexism”? Whatever it is, I do think that what is holding back Africa’s ECONOMIC development (Africa is developed in many other ways) is the elite in Africa trying to see their societies with western lenses. The media has so popularised western “values” that many in Africa take it for granted that what is western is best. Africa will progress only when Africans begin taking themselves seriously and stop just parroting what we hear on BBC, VOA, CNN, SKY and Fox news. There is no “universal” African attitude toward women, and even if there were, it of its own, it would not be enough to “hold Africa back”.

  106. 127 EFF
    August 13, 2009 at 13:09

    Suspect it is more with refusal of countries to accept tax and insurance of rich to improve country’s resources, so no would not say is down to sexism so much as down to feudalism

    I don’t know africa, but would like to say that where a small percentage of African students and a large percentage of asian male students have been shown to be very unwilling to take direction from a woman, to the point of ignoring them to the detriment of task, even though suggestions made were logical and respectful to all cultures, dreeds, etc etc etc

  107. August 13, 2009 at 13:41

    Those sexist mindsets dont exist in a vacuum,society shapes them.We have the phenomenon of the custodians of orthodoxy and zealous gatekeepers socialized to thwart fellow women and pour scorn on their endeavours! I work in a professional environment where women are considered intruders and told to vacate the space for ” family providers”, a colonial invention if ever there was one!

  108. 129 Methusalem
    August 13, 2009 at 17:37

    “Women’s boxing gets Olympic spot”. That is the current sports Headline news from the BBC. Is’t now gender equality? Are women going to be more content with that?

  109. 130 Patrick
    August 15, 2009 at 15:39

    I keep wondering why americans and british continue to generalize africa. do you even know how big africa is and the number of tribes therein? I bet, Hillary Clinton hasn’t been to even a quarter part of africa and for her to put herself in a position to say if sexism is right or wrong is totally unacceptable.
    she was just lucky to be a US secretary of state which was a seat she occupies our of the pity Obama had for her and for that reason alone she thinks america does not practice sexism!
    If you let women work too hard, they will say its woman labour and if they are not let to work at all, you’ll say its sexism or seggregation.

  110. August 16, 2009 at 11:57

    Sexism of course is wrong and retrograde. But the idea that it is conceptually distinct from other problems globally is mistaken. The whole is the sum of its parts.

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