Most Mauritian women claim that they are not feminists, or if they are deep down in their souls, they hesitate to make such a declaration in case people make fun of them. They believe that they will no longer be looked upon as feminine or worse, it might hinder their marriage prospects. Others believe that feminists are frustrated women. Even highly educated women with a university degree would proudly declare that they are not feminists, clearly forgetting that if they have a career today, it was feminism that opened the doors for them. Luckily, we do have many other enlightened women in our country.
Feminism first started in the West and later swept across the world. The premise for feminism was equal rights: The right to vote, the right to make and take decisions on one’s own, to have a career, which helps to supplement the family income, equal pay, owning property, having a bank account, right to education, just to name a few essential parts of this movement. Believe it or not, equal rights for women also meant liberating the men, especially their mindset shackled in age-old, archaic traditions.
Few women in Mauritius really know about the different waves of feminism, which occurred mostly in Europe and elsewhere in North America. Even India, China and Iran were at the forefront of this movement. The first wave of feminism occurred towards the end of the nineteenth century. You may have heard of “Women's suffrage” (the right to vote and stand for parliamentary office). Our country at that time was spinning from British colonization, a dominating political system that couldn’t be bothered about women’s rights. However, in 1948, Mauritian women voted for the first time, way before women in other so-called developed countries were allowed to do so, and they did not have to militate, like the suffragettes of the nineteenth century in western countries.
In Mauritius, at that time, women would still stay first in their parents’ home and then after marriage, in their husband and in-laws’ home. This lasted for a long, long time, even decades after our Independence. Women’s education or having a career were frowned upon. Only “bad” women would do this. Free secondary education in the 1980s would turn out to be a savior for women, and today, they are at par with men, in whatever field you can imagine. For instance, engineering and other science and technology fields, once the prerogative of men, are being invaded by smart and articulate women, with fat paychecks.
In the early 1990s, I flew to Europe for university studies. Besides the culture shock, seeing a different type of woman just kept me spellbound. Now, these were the descendants of the suffragettes, and whose grandmothers and mothers have lived through the second (1960s, 1970s) and third waves (1990s) of feminism. I was witnessing the results of these two last waves. Whether it was in France, Germany or the Scandinavian countries, women were their own persons. They were adept at balancing every area of women's experience—family, sexuality, and work, in tandem with their spouses or partners. They took turns at cleaning the house or taking care of babies. Women could go out for a beer alone or for a movie with friends. Live-in relationships were rampant and both men and women would go through several relationships before eventually settling down. Absolutely normal. No scandal. These European women were also very active in politics and the media. I have seen women driving trucks and buses, or lifting heavy concrete slabs with bare hands for a building under construction. Women would venture out at night without any chaperone and no man with filthy plans would dare approach them. Even single moms are celebrated. Actually, women depending on their husbands were looked down upon.
In contrast, I left a country where our cultures restricted women’s movement to the house, women who were slaving while men have their feet up watching football matches. Our women were not their own decision makers at that time, they could not step out alone unless accompanied by a male relative. Even those women who were trying to pursue higher studies were frowned upon, and this is something our women were terribly scared of: To be ostracized, to be isolated. While our women were still hesitant to enter a restaurant and have lunch on her own, the rest of the world was far ahead. Even today, seeing a woman alone in a movie theater or a restaurant raises eyebrows. Once, I was accompanied by three female cousins for a dinner at a restaurant, and the other diners couldn’t stop staring at us. There was no male person with us and we were footing our own bill. I did proudly pay the bill with my Visa card.
The movement of third-wave feminism focused more on individual identity. Remember, women across the world have always been dismissed as weak and brainless creatures. The third-wave feminism came into being because of the realization, especially from the West, that women are different across the spectrum: Ethnicities, nationalities, religions and cultural backgrounds. At least here, Mauritian women can relate, but do they want to?
As we celebrate the Women’s International Day, in 2019, we may have several Mauritian women with Master’s and Ph.D. degrees occupying positions at the highest echelon of the corporate world. We have CEOs, lawyers, professors, doctors, and so on. All this is a good sign for the future. I consider them to be role models for our young women today. As I travel across our small country, I am amazed to see that less and less women are specifically homebound. Our women, well-groomed, flood passenger buses. Others are driving cars like SUVs; parents or husbands no longer restrict their activities to the house only, they go to the gym, spa, and just like their European counterparts, they go on dates. Once you enter an office, for instance a bank or even any ministry in this country, there are countless women busy at work in their booths with their computers. It is an overwhelming sight. However, if you have gone for a meeting with the manager, lo and behold, it’s a man at the desk. In other words, the top person in a company is mostly male.
We are still living in a male dominating world in Mauritius and patriarchy is still alive and doing well.
Woman: an icon par excellence
Since time immemorial, women have struggled a lot. They were limited and trapped within the four walls of their home. Their main tasks were only limited to the upbringing of their children and undertaking household chores. They were tagged and labelled as inferior citizens, weaker sex and baby-producing machines. But after the emancipation of women in the 1970s, women acquired their freedom and they became radical and drastic social agents. They made a big difference in the male-dominated world. They started having equal rights like their male counterparts. They attained a high level of knowledge and nowadays, they are occupying high positions in universities, companies, institutions, schools, academy, non-governmental organisations, sitting at the chair of a director general, director, ombudswoman, artistic director, fashion designer, stylist, motivational coach, heart surgeon, or gynaecologist.
Women bring joy in our lives. Without them, life would have been meaningless. They are paragons of beauty, they are multi-taskers, they are chronic workaholics, they are multi-skilled, they possess a multi-dimensional personality, they are high achievers, they are peace ambassadors and they are law enforcers. The young Pakistani Nobel Peace Winner, Malala Yousafzai, stated that “Every girl deserves to take part in creating the technology that will change our world.” Women are technologists, anthropologists, environmentalists, diabetologists, software engineers and they are politically active. Women possess that inner power and intrinsic strength to convert a house into a home.
On a conclusive note, imagining a world without women: This is impossible because they are the real joys, soul mates, life partners, of men and they are the music of men’s lives. Women should be respected and loved. Women indeed have set an example of wonderful life partners and they have turned into wizards of economy and financial development. They are super strong mentally and they are possessors of immense patience.
Women - A Leading Force : new modern thinkers
Nowadays, the modern women strive a lot to be independent in their lives irrespective of their social backgrounds. It is their will power, patience, hard work and determination that make them successful and independent. It is an undeniable fact today because it is not that easy for all women to achieve anything very easily. They do face lots of challenges and fight a lot. Women are strugglers, fighters, brave warriors and they never give up till the end. They are superwomen in true words. They have no such facilities and amenities in bagging financial and family support. At times they lack both proper skills and the required formation. But despite these obstacles, they march forward to being successful, happy and independent in life. Truly speaking, they need to follow some courses in order to gain and acquire necessary expertise in the desired fields they want to specialise. They are teeming with ideas but they don’t have the guidance to accomplish their dreams and projects. In order to bag necessary and proper guidance, they should keep learning and studying as learning is a never-ending process. But despite all odds, they utilize their inner power, which is their self-confidence to achieve something in life. Their self-confidence is their super power and believing in themselves is their major boon and blessing they have acquired, which they use efficiently.
Primary School Educator
Bel Air Rivière Sèche
Women as modern thinkers
A woman is a symbol of gratitude, sacrifice and courage. She is an independent being who has struggled for her survival right from childhood. In this modern era, she has attained her due position out of choices she has opted for.
Though women have been victims of many crimes, they did not lose their will power. Despite being victims, they have the guts to overcome all hurdles and still hold their determination.
Today, more than half of the population is educated whereby women are academically more active than men, which is something positive.
Women emancipation is a now a reality all over the world. In Mauritius itself, we have women occupying the best positions in all fields, be it education, health, Mauritius Police Force, ministers and many more.
The Education Minister herself is a role model of that of an accomplished woman. Our Speaker, too, projects the image of a strong woman in a male-dominated world. A woman thus plays a key role for the overall and holistic development of a child to plan his future.
So, let’s appreciate her efforts, sacrifices, and her steadfastness along with her strength during all the demanding situations she has to face in her everyday life.
HAPPY WOMENS DAY TO ALL BEAUTIFUL LADIES OF THIS WORLD
Woman: enforcer of economic development
Women play a major role in the economy of a nation, including housewives. Being a housewife is the largest workforce in the world that goes underpaid and in return, they receive undue scoff. If she is paid for the role of a housewife’s duties, this can amount to billions of dollars annually. A woman purchases household goods not limited to food items, but clothing, accessories, and many daily use items as simple as a scrub to wash dishes. Women empowerment goes beyond realizing that the work a woman does is equivalent to that of a man; it’s much more than obtaining the right to a certain occupation. Woman empowerment is the global realization that tasks done by women, whether it’s at home or in office, are not desired but needed. It’s the realization of the balance of nature, that we are all equal and no work is big or small.
Year III Student