The rise of the matriarch

What would a women-led society look like?

What would a women-led society look like?

Imagine a community where women are the leaders at all levels, where all major decisions affecting the communities are taken by women, and men are only allowed minimal participation in advisory roles. Then imagine a community founded by women, populated by women only, and endowed with natural resources so well-managed that it becomes a tourist attraction and luxury destination. Men have to beg and plead to live there, and are granted permission only on certain terms.

Perhaps this seems like a scene out of a play (could it be Wives’ Revolt by the great Nigerian writer J.P. Clark?), or a wild dream of an over-enthusiastic feminist. Many would find it hard to even entertain such a thought, but the truth is that we may not be so far away from such a reality.

Take the example of a village community in the protected Amerindian area of French Guaina, where women were at one point in time compelled to assert themselves and take over the position of the village head from the men. The former village head – a man – was collecting bribes from illegal gold-miners who were wantonly eleasing mercury into the environment, polluting the river and poisoning the fish that were a significant source of the community’s food.

The women were enraged when they started giving birth to deformed babies as a result of the mercury-poisoned water and fish and their teratogenic effects. So they installed a woman as the village head (and banished the illegal miners from the community) with the argument that no local woman would ever go ahead with collecting bribe from the illegal miners. The implications on child-bearing and the well-being of the community were too great.

In another scenario, in a Maasai community in Kenya, women who were repeatedly abused by their husbands joined together, moved out, founded their own community. The women’s community was so well-managed and successful that it became a tourist destination and the men had to appeal for permission to live among them. Sound familiar?

Before you get carried away with the thrills of the stories, consider quickly the implication of women community leadership on agriculture and food security, taking into account the statistics in a recent post I wrote on the AASW6 blog. Envision what the state of food security in Africa (and the world) would be like if women, the “real” food producers, became decision makers and had equitable access to land and other resources for production and trade.

Visualize what future communities (and cities) would look like if women–as children-bearers, homemakers, care-givers, food producers, great managers, and leaders–also had the political power to make the big decisions that affect them and their children. Consider these possibilities vis-à-vis the world’s issues with hunger, pollution, and climate change.

Consider these things, then tell me your thoughts, ideas, dreams, and visions. I want to know: Should women have the power in the communities of the future?

Blogpost by Bunmi Ajilore, a social media reporter for AASW6.

Photo: Development Education Centre, Nigeria

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