From brides to CEOs…Girls forge  new path in  a man’s world

Among us is a generation of women that believed marriage was an achievement. Most of their upbringing was centred around house chores, being cultured and conditioned to meet certain expectations for when they’re somebody’s wife one day.

Girls were raised to expect to get married such that if  they got to a particular age still unmarried, panic bells were sounded. They had to start having children by a certain age and focus on a career and advancing self was not prioritised. Women had to be nurturers with their primary place being the home. Educating a girl was considered a waste of time and money as families believed they would eventually be married off and their education would not be of benefit to their clan.

Girls  whose parents chose to send them to school were stereotyped and trained for modest jobs — nothing too glamorous, lest they became more important or ended up earning more than their husbands. 

Buying property was mostly done within the confines of a marriage, not by a woman single handedly.

But this has changed over the years, thanks to the advancement of gender equality, affirmative action and various women empowerment programmes.

After independence, Government came up with deliberate policies and affirmative programmes to empower women both economically and politically. The National Gender Policy adopted in 2013 as a development of its predecessor adopted in 2004 dedicates to create a fair society where all citizens enjoy equality of opportunities and participation in all sectors.

The country is party to international protocols such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPA).

On a regional level, the country is signatory to the Sadc Gender and Development Declaration which also seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

This has helped women smash glass ceilings and take up space in important decision making matrices.

Women are no longer going to school for basic level literacy but they’re studying to become prominent business people, engineers, executives, doctors – the list is endless.

Now, society is raising girls who believe they can run the course on their own. Women who don’t need a man to buy a house, a car or to be successful.

Many women today believe they don’t need a man to help them raise a child — they can do it on their own. They’re not about being imbokodo or consider ukubekezela when things get tough.

At the first sign of trouble in a marriage, many choose to bolt because they can stand on their own.

We have empowered our girls but have forgotten to teach our boys how to love and co-exist with an empowered woman. We have empowered our girls and in some instances savoured their femininity and turned them into these superior beings that can’t lend anyone an ear.

This has resulted in a lot of toxicity in many relationships.

Submission is interpreted differently. What someone views as respect may not fly in another’s opinion. Adultery. Deception. Interference from family members. Emotional intelligence has helped both men and women recognise the signs of abuse. Opinions are divided because of creed or beliefs, handling finances, raising children — it can be overwhelming.

Divorce has in many instances become an attractive option.

According to research, most divorces happen between year three and year seven of marriage. Just four percent of couples divorce after 10 years of marriage.

Lack of compatibility is one of the top reasons for new couples to divorce, with 59 percent of couples who divorced in their first year citing this cause. Lack of family support, intimacy and too much conflict is also cited.

Another reason a lot of marriages today are in trouble is because many don’t understand why they’re married, who to turn to when things go south and what to do to put the broken pieces back together again.

Statistics from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), point to an upward trend in divorce cases in Bulawayo where out of the 658 cases recorded last year, 408 were completed.

In 2020, a total of 1 117 couples filed for divorce across the country and the figure shot up to 1 351 in 2021. In 2022, the figures doubled to 2 735 cases countrywide against 13 436 recorded marriages. This means an estimated 20 percent of Zimbabwean registered marriages are likely to end in divorce.

The trend is very worrying.

While for some, divorce is unavoidable and serves to prevent extreme cases such as different forms of violence that may lead to harm or even death, couples need to try their best to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner.

For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, till death do us part — are the vows many made.

Ladies, honour those vows, no matter how high you climb up the corporate ladder. Men ought to love their women and appreciate how them being educated makes life easier for them and their children. After all, you’re partners, not competitors.

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