WOMEN IN ADVOCACY: a trip to non-conformity.

We start solving societal problems not by simply talking about them. Talking about the very thing that evidently affects us is a step, but we cannot eradicate a problem completely by just doing that. We’ve been observant enough to identify it and brave enough to talk about it, so what next?

Advocacy at its peak is action without conformity-action without hesitation and a torture of self. 

A few years ago, the idea of identifying as feminist wasn’t top of my priority. In fact, I would swerve the question mostly but would fantasize and wish I could just call myself that without any exaggerated perceptions from anyone. What I did not understand at that time was this: how people choose to see and judge you has more to do with how you label yourself and very little to do with the impact you make. When I realized this, I chose to live freely, absolutely independent of what other people would think or say. I chose to wear the label confidently.

During this journey, I have come to realize that advocacy is also bravity. I must admit the shock on my face when I realized that by just speaking up I could lose a whole lot. 

To me, being vocal about oppression should never be based on bravity but rather on a genuine desire to not live uncomfortably as humans. Advocacy is not a trend. It is a sign that people especially women are tired and just want liberation. 

For as long as I can remember women have been fighting. Women have fought to vote. Women have fought to be educated. Women have fought to simply be regarded as human. Sadly, women are still fighting. To claim that there isn’t a system that favors men, is to rub that privilege on the faces of women. Many think feminism is a problem because it speaks directly to the privilege of men. 

The truth is this: men are not the problem and women aren’t too. The problem is the system that affords to baby men and make them leaders at the same time. The problem is the system that prepares women for oppression and then ensures that silence is the only language they can ascribe to.

The problem is men and women who hold on so tightly to this system and still complain about how much it wreaks havoc in our society. 

For as long as I can remember, we have been shouting and speaking but our voices although heard, very minimal action has been taken. It may seem like they don’t hear you. It sometimes looks like there’ll be absolutely no progress but don’t forget that at a certain point in time some women stood up to fight for us to vote and have an education. 

Don’t let that stop you, in fact, if there’s anything you need to be, it is to be resilient, calm and again, brave.

When we speak, they hear us and they see us but they are perfectly fine with the system, these men and women, are okay with the fact that suicide rate is high amongst men. They know that men constitute the majority involved in all forms of crimes on our continent and in the world.

They are very aware that women are afraid to walk around at night and partly also afraid to enjoy the comfort of their homes because the safety of a woman isn’t assured anywhere. To look away and pretend is approval that these social menaces/pressures should continue. Saying and doing nothing is endorsement. As long as there are oppressed people, there’ll always be feminism.

Dear Madam Advocate, allow me to ask you a few questions;• Are you willing to be misunderstood?• Are you willing to lose friends?• Are you ready to be called stiff-necked?• Are you ready to be called bossy?• Are you ready to be called over bearing?

Because in all of this there’ll always be a loss and it will stem from the fact that you’ve chosen this path.There’ll always be a name attached to your identity because you have chosen this path. I hate to use the word “labels” because the reason we started this fight is because of it but fortunately for us, you can choose to label yourself whichever way you want.

Do not forget that, if you keep doing what everyone does, you’ll never see the change. You need to resist the urge to be like everyone else and instead, take up the challenge of wielding a new block of identify for yourself. You can’t be yourself if you choose to conform. It is very easy to step into that “everybody does it” niche, but never allow that become your name, song and voice because it will make your journey nothing but a skeletal piece of nothing. Many are okay with accepting the norm, and so be prepared to be seen as someone who has a problem with everything.

During this journey, you’ll win when you learn, unlearn and relearn. Consistency is important but without the right kind of education, your consistency will just be another chasing the wind. Just because you wear the label doesn’t mean you know it all. So take up new challenges and opportunities that exposes you to new skills, lessons and expertise. Don’t say you are not qualified. Prepare to be qualified.

There are those moments you’ll wish you never started and think of quitting, you’ll feel drained especially when you are not accomplishing your goals. In those moments take a deep breathe and look yourself in the mirror because this is as much a fight for you as it is for others. Justice should not only be recognized when a person who becomes a victim of injustice is a loved one, but the recognition that justice is deserved of anyone is truly the reason you comfort yourself. Your own power gives you the chance to right any injustice. This fight is for you too.

Quietly applaud yourself for how far you’ve come. If you lose, cry. If you win, be happy. Loss isn’t failure until you quit. 

My Dear Advocate, I am sure by now you know who you are and what you want. I am sure injustice makes you restless. I am sure you don’t smile when you hear all the cruel things that happen to your sisters and sometimes, the story or experiences you go through personally. I am sure!

We have work to do, fasten your seat belt and let this journey drive you roughly, calmly and quickly, thread on the grounds you want and resist every urge to conform.

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