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Empowerment of Women in a Maasai world

Recent events at my place of employment have prompted me to write this:

There is an aspect of Maasai culture that promotes a certain kind of promiscuity. The idea that if a warrior plants his spear outside a woman’s hut, he is just helping out her husband by “planting good seed”. I believe that practice to be diametrically opposed to the idea of empowerment, and, indeed, a form of slavery. While so much of the Maasai culture is a model for what society could be… the respect for elders, for example… the sexual subjugation of women cannot possibly empower them.

I don’t believe empowerment of women undermines the role of men in a society, either. I firmly believe that it is a man’s role to protect the women in his family, and around him in his workplace, and anywhere he encounters women. That means protecting them physically from danger and abuse, but also protecting their virtue, their reputations, their emotional well-being, and their value as individuals. Women need to be valued as precious, capable, worthy of respect, and worthy of our protection. I don’t mean protection in the sense of controlling every move, or stifling individualism or creativity, or locking them away “for their own protection”. Nor does it imply inferiority in any sense of the word.

I submit that if we are truly about the empowerment of women in our community, we need to start with our own immediate community. We can and should hold one another accountable to these basic principles of human interaction. This starts at the top. Managers, supervisors, whoever has authority over others, must model the message. We must pride ourselves in “walking the talk” with regard to our regard for one another, and our concern for the well-being, physically and emotionally, of our coworkers, and especially to our female coworkers.

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