By Amer Mayen Dhieu, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Dear Fiancee and the soon to be Husband
Today is our wedding day! congratulations for your biggest achievements. I am not talking of your recent degree or your recent million dollar wages but for being a man enough. You have maned up and want to marry a woman. I believed you know, you are marrying a woman. Just to remind you on how far you have come, how well you have performed and for making a right choice to marry a woman, I would like to ride you through to some precious stories and major changes that women have brought to our world. Please pardon me to commit a sin on our wedding day. I mean allow me to be racist by limiting the stories of success only to our African women, because you know what our position as Africans is in the global arena. We are poor almost, in everything but I am talking of knowledge here, yet our women have perform really well in their respective countries of origin.
See how African countries are politically embarrasses in global politic. In 2003, the watchdog group Transparency International ranked one of African oil rich country Nigeria as number one country that practice corruption at its best. Because Nigeria has a woman, “Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala left her job as a vice president at the World Bank to become the country’s finance minister, and by 2005 Transparency International was hailing Nigeria as one of 21 most improved states” Before I promise to bring the improvement of this kind to your world just like woman Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in Nigeria, let me also give you another success story brought upon by another African bear, African owned woman. You know that today, all I want is to make you realises how great the decision you have just made, I mean wanting to marry a woman. I don’t want to fail you by not giving you the true meaning of women on our wedding day. After that awesome performance from Ngozi, she also added improvement to “banking, insurance, the foreign exchange market, pensions, and income taxation”. See! signing this marriage certificate today is not just coming with single package but a full one. A woman. Similar story happen in Liberia when they decided to have a woman. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. She “prioritise the eradication of corruption” and she won that goal. Isn’t that a good performance from a woman. The one you are getting married to today.
But before that honey, I have to admitted that seeing this mass of population watching over us, including your mother, my mother, your uncles, mine too, your brothers and sisters as well as mine and this group of relatives, cousins, friends, workmates, your Exes and my Exes and country-mates, inside me there is uncertainty thoughts about why they are all here today. Some especially your extended family and my one, maybe some of our friends too are here to wish us a happy moment in our wedding. Some are here to have fun with us and share your joy of marrying a woman BUT baby, those of Exes and Enemies within are wishing us a good luck. Trust me! these people are the right one. They know exactly what will happen after tonight. I mean after this fairytale wedding, and for this reason I feel like Schapelle Corby. Incase you have no clue of who Schapelle Corby is; she is Australian woman who left her home country with friends and few family members for a holiday of lifetime in Bali; the Indonesian’s Island famously known worldwide for its tourist attraction. Unluckily a bunch of cannabis’ bag was found in her luggage bag before she exited Indonesian main Airport and was handcuffed and send to Indonesian jail. The lady managed to fall in love while in jail and bear her owned child. The good luck message our Exes and Enemies within are wishing us tonight is a full message and should not be ignored or taken for granted. To make sure we have a good luck, there are some deals we have to reach before the priest glued us in the perceives eternity of love
Baby, no matter how much women tried to convince their fellow men counterpart that we are equal and should be allow to try the best we can to made important strides together, “ the trend line has not been straight” and for this reason I am not enjoying the early union like these Exes and Enemies within. “In recent interviews with hundreds of female leaders in over 30 countries, I have discovered that where women have taken leadership roles, it has been as social reformers and entrepreneurs, not as politicians or government officials” I do not know what this discovery mean to you and I feel the need of knowing it before we sign the marriage paper. Having an idea of what you think about this positive side of women will bring about a “more cooperative and less conflict-prone “ marriage life between us and it is significance we discuss this earlier because at the back of my mind I feel that this promise is yet to be fulfilled.
“Granting that only few women are breaking through traditional barriers and becoming presidents, prime ministers, cabinet members, and legislators” it is also important you are aware that “more women too are postponing marriages, others are living unmarried with partners” so they can exit anytime they feel humiliated while other women are “outliving their husbands” This social changes comes with the increases of women abuse that goes unreported. Bear in mind I am not talking of that small domestic violence but the underrepresentation of women in higher positions resulting from lack of support, starting from the husband title you want to make yourself today to the general public. Because women are not protected by the laws, community and by their partners, community’s outliners or queue-jumpers are brutality taking it to different level by posting threat of physical harm to few women who have decided to break the traditional chain. According to Phoebe Asiyo, “a prominent Kenyan member of parliament, the greatest expense for women running for parliament in Kenya is around-the-clock security, which is necessary because of the danger of rape, a common intimidation tactic” One example of this tactical intimidation forces upon women who want to see changes in society is Mary Okumu, a Stanford-educated Kenyan public health expert, who was brutally beaten up when she decided to stood for election in 2002. “Okumu says that she and other candidates routinely carried concealed knives and wore two sets of tights under their dresses in order to buy more time to scream during an attempted rape” Not only this but she also reported that “ for women political aspirants the violence also includes foul verbal abuse, beatings, abduction, and death threats”.
See! with greater sense of independence and “more flexible lifestyles” that me and my fellow women want to live, there are uncertainty about the goodness of our post-wedding life because we never discuss this issues when we were just boyfriend and girlfriend. Oh wait a minute! I think we chat about it only a few times but I feel you were sugar-talking me in order to find entry to come and exploit my world just like your fellow men. I know that is a bit too harsh to mentioned it here while we are almost to finish our walk down the aisle, but honey, that is our African way of encouraging a real man. It is a way to encourage you to be a real gentleman that can possibly manage to deal with women’s harsh and crazy side.
Baby “women are still severely underrepresented in governments worldwide. A recent World Economic Forum report covering 115 countries notes that women have closed over 90 percent of the gender gap in education and in health but only 15 percent of it when it comes to political empowerment at the highest levels” and for this reason I can’t just sign our marriage certificate. You must first make me feel like one day regardless of my African poor background I can still be like those of Maya Angelou, “usually have attributes more similar to those of Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, and Golda Meir”. Naming these women might make you think as if only our mother Africa is where women contributions are not recognised. Do not let Barack Obama or John Kerry comes and make you feel as if they have done their country’s women a favour. The pattern of under-representing women in government and other higher positions is also holds for the United States of America, where only “16 of 100 members of the Senate and 71 of 435 members of the House of Representatives are women”. Do not also let president Ahmed Khazai of Afghanistan or King of Saudi Arabia comes and preach the same message to you because their women who aim to be politicians are facing the same critical situation too. Same thing is happening in United Kingdom where the monarchy is headed by a woman. Their “percentage of women in parliaments have declined from approximately 33 percent to 17.5 percent in 1997 and 10.6 percent in 2004”
Now you have heard of all that women are facing, the underrepresentation of women around the world. I am not asking you to make me feel like Mitchell Obama who is now widely known because she is Barack’s wife instead of her famous law degree or make me feel like Madam Ayen Mayaardit who is well respected and protected by men because she is the first lady and the wife of the president of the Republic of South Sudan. I don’t want to be the only protectable woman while my fellow ladies are being gang-raped on the street because they opts to be heard and represented. I don’t want to be the first of my African women and of the world too, I want to be given a ground created by you to have initiative that called upon more women to join politic and other higher professions like the one of Liberian women that cry out to her fellow women, that she is lonely upstairs (upstairs mean parliament) and she want her fellow women to join her.
Sweetheart remember Rebeca Grynspan, the former vice president of Costa Rica? she voices the same men domination stating that “society doesn’t provide conditions under which women can do their jobs with tranquility and leave their children home with peace of mind, even if the can count on stable, supportive partners” like yourself. The changes for women to be recognised as active participants in national affairs will not only comes with you changing only me but with you allowing me to go outside and scream to the bystanders on the street and the neighbourhood that women need to be freed without you feeling ashamed for my act that breached our societal norms, that is assume by the society as an act of shame. It will start with you being the first notifying the police when you see an act of women abuse. It will start with you writing to the general public and the head offices that women need to be represented in higher positions, that more women are needed in the parliament. It will start with you teaching gender equality in schools, universities and colleges. Over all it will start with you being the first responder of every act that downplayed women roles in homes, communities and national affairs and with you being women advocate
Baby, in contemporary world the pressures for women to win public vote is improving but, what happen to the few women who have made it to the parliament is still very disappointing. You see that video clip of President Salva Kiir addressing parliament regarding the formation of interim government. Women were not made speakers but singers. I mean parliament entertainers. Even though the current media policy are very much strict in South Sudan, Honourable, the minister of information really need to look for that video and banned it from viewing on Youtube. I know it contained a lot of significant informations concerning our current national conflict but with those women clapping and singing, it only portray how our cultural norms have enslaved the brains of our brave women. Honey these women didn’t want to stand there clapping without questioning the president or other male cabinet members but it is the only way the can survived being branded as prostitutes or stay unfired in the parliament. Remember what happened to the widow of our founding father of our nation Dr John Garang. When his wife was interview by the Western media, she innocently state the real fact of what was happening in Juba capital in the night of December 15. Her Honesty and position as politician of all tribe in South Sudan landed her in a seat that every single youth of his children age called her a prostitute when she’s not but a faithful widow. This happened always to women of her kind. Every woman that stood in front of thousand of audiences to speak her mind and her views is the bitch and a prostitute of our society. Forgetting how much she have suffered during struggle before she found herself a home in Nairobi, A youth made up of under thirties were the first to disgraced her.
This is the actual fact we women are facing and for me not to feel like Schapelle Corby, my dreams, goals and objective must first feel safe before we sign our marriage certificate. This is because you have made a very right decision to be with a woman and for you to know how great your choice is, I have to remind you about what you can do to make your woman a great of all. This is by making her make her other fellow women the greatest of all. Now that all you are doing is smiling and nodding after reading my long vows, I am convinced that you are agreeing with what I have just mentioned. my confidence to marry you is growing second by second by second, and I am feeling like robbing the priest with that unsigned marriage certificate and sign it without his direction. Baby the man is wasting our time. The time to go out and remind society about the “fundamentalist interpretation of Islam threatening women’s nascent political hopes in countries such as Kuwait, where women gained the right to vote and run for office elections but do not win any parliamentary seats”. Similarly to the “Afghanistan and Iraq, where new constitutions reserve a quarter of parliamentary seats for women, but in danger of backsliding into a collision with resurgent extremism” and in Africa where”African women, who traditionally do the hard work of cultivation and all of the family rearing, are facing the similar epidemical men’s power domination.
Now that you are picking up your pen to sign our marriage certificate, let me assure you that you are also signing the responsibility to preach to the world that women’s participation is needed in political sphere. As “the Sierra Leonean activist and former presidential candidate Zainab Bangura points out, The real power isn’t in civil society; it’s in policymaking.” Women’s contributions in our national affairs and of the world too will bring a very important change to our world. Our nation do not need to undermine women potentials. Promoting our intellectual women to higher positions can strengthen and broader our national economy. A global research union poll conducted in the year 2000, “found that 80 percent of the respondents believed that increased representation of women renews public trust in government, which in turn helps economic welfare” I want our post-wedding life not to include the Dinka strict social norms and traditional ethical standards that subjected women to remain silence and house product. Now that baby you have heard of all the good virtue of marrying a woman you can now ask the priest to pronounce us as Husband and wife but let him excluded God and love eternity because the moment you start forgetting all of that I just mentioned to you, I will start the campaign in our house, with you and that shows we might have up and downs that might force us to renew our vows in oder to make sure you are understanding and stay updated with the conditions surrounding our marriage.
Congratulation for not being A gay. Congratulation for making a right decision to be with a woman; the precious creature, the peace-loving being and the compassionate humankind of all times.
Note: All the credit goes to the Author of “Let Women Rule”, Swanee Hunt the Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Chair of the Initiative for Inclusive Security. She is one of the authors in Foreign Affairs Magazine. Most of her article have inspired me and have become the foundation of my interest in international women affairs. All the quoted words comes from her famous article “Let Women Rule”
For inconvenience, you can reach the author of “my wedding vows” on her Facebook page; Amer Mayen Dhieu.