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Motherhood

entailsthestateof beinga mother.Itformsthebasisfortherecognitionof womenandtheuniquequalitiesandcharacteristicsthat distinguishthem from men.Motherlyloveis consideredas theabilityof womento provideservicesto their children.In thisregard,womenare expectedto takecareof their children.Thenotionof motherhoodhas, fora longtime,contributedto discriminationof womenbased on their gender.Over theyears,menhavesubjectedwomento gender based discriminationthat has infringedtherightsof womenandhinderedtheir participationin developmentactivitiesof their respectiveregions.Whilediscussingmotherhoodideologies,itis worthnotingthatmotherhoodcannot be regardedas a biologicalaspect.Rather,motherhoodhas beenhistorically andsociallyconstructedin thesociety.Traditionally, womenhavebeenconsideredsubordinateandinferiorto menwhilemenhavebeenviewedto be strongeranddominantover women.2

Traditionalfamiliescan be creditedforhavingdevelopedthenotionsandideologiesof motherhood.Forexample,in theancienttimes,menwereconsideredas thebreadwinnersof thefamilywhilewomenstayedat hometo attendto householdchores.Itis theculturethatdetermineswhatitimpliesto be a fatherora mother.Thus,therolesplayedby bothmenandwomenare culturally determined.Over time,culturehas actedas thedeterminant of thebehaviorsthat are appropriateforwomenandthosethat can be consideredas appropriateformen.Theself-identity of mothersandtheir relationshipto menare shapedby theculturally determinedaspectsof life.Womenwhohaveemergedto beatalloddsandlivelifeon their ownwithout relying on menhavebeenstereotyped.Womenwhotendto managetheir householdsare stereotypedthan womenwhoactas housewivesdoingall thehouseholdchores.Theideologyof motherhoodis tiedto themyths,customs,norms,andbeliefsthat are heldabout womenby varioussocieties.1

Thelivesof womenare to a considerableextentaffectedby theviewsof motherhoodin patriarchal societies.Thenotionof motherhoodhas beeninfluencedby men’sviewof womenandtheplacethatwomenholdin society.Patriarchy entailsthemaledominationof society.Thismeansthatwomenhavelittleornosay in theactivitiesof thesociety.Womenholda dormantpositionandtheyare not allowedto participatein crucialactivities.On theotherhand,womenare activeandtheytakepartin allactivitiesthat are consideredcrucial.Menare involvedin decisionmakingandwomenare expectedto acceptthedecisionsmadeby menwithout questioningorobjection.In suchsocieties,womencannot eventakepartin crucialdecisionsthat affecttheir ownlives.Forexample,theycannot makedecisionson issuessuchas familyplanningandthespacing of childrensince decisionmakingis a preserve of themen.1

Patriarchalviewsof motherhoodhavealsocontributedto women’slimitedaccessto facilities.Asa resultof maledomination,womenhavebeenunableto accesshighereducationas comparedto men.Traditionally, itwasheldthatonlytheboychildshould be educated.Womendidnot havetheopportunityto gainformaleducationas a resultof which theycould not getgoodjobs.Consequently, womenonlyworkedin theinformalsectorsince thelittleeducationtheyhadcould not helpthem securejobsin theformalsector.With onlybasiceducation,womenwereconsideredfitformarriageandparentsrefusedto educategirlsnomatterhowbrighttheywere.Womenweresupposedto portraymotherhoodby stayingat homeandexpectingmento providefortheir needs.Itis menwhowentto workwhilewomenstayedat homeallthetimeperformingtheroleof parenting. Men providedfortheneedsof their familiesandwomenwereonlyexpectedto rely on whatwasbeingprovidedby their husbands.1

Theviewsof motherhoodalsolimitedwomen’sparticipationin theleadership.Asa resultof thesubordinationof women,theycould not holdleadershippositionsliketheir malecounterparts.Thismeantthatfewwomenwerein leadershipandthosewhoparticipatedin thisnobleactivityonlydidsoat thelowestranks.Mostpoliticiansweremenandwomenappointedin leadershippositionsonlyheldpositionsthat could not givethem authority.Womenleadershadto followordersfrom menandcould not giveorderson their ownwithout theinterferenceof men.In thecorporate sector,womencould not holdtopmanagementpositionsas thesewerepreservedformenwhowereconsideredmoreknowledgeablethan women.In mostorganizations,womenworkedas cooks,cleaners,andiftheywereluckyenough,theycould workas secretaries.Withregardtopoliticalelections,womendidnot havetherightto participatein suchpoliticalexerciseslike voting.Assuch,theycould not choosetheir leaders.2

Withtime,womenhaveresistedthestereotypesof thefitandunfitmother.Womenconsiderthisstereotyping as an infringementof their rights.Asa result,theyhavedecidedto resistthedominationof menandfightfortheir rightfulplacein society.Thefightforwomenrightscan be creditedto theemergenceof feminist movements.Womensuffragemovementsstartedin the1960s whenwomenstartedadvocatingfortheir rights.Womenfrom theUnited States startedadvocatingfortheir rightsto equalrepresentationjustlike men.During thistime,thelivesof American womenwerelimitedin manyaspectssuchas work,as wellas familylife.Womencould marryat an earlyageandstarthavingchildrenwhilestillyoung.Thislimitedopportunitiesforwomen,as a resultof which theysoughtto fightforequalrightswith men.2

Themainaimof thefeminist movementof the1960s and1970s wasto fightagainst inequalityin theworkplace. Womenwantedequalaccessto jobslikemen,as wellas equalremunerationforthejobstheydid.Their objectivewasto objectthelawsthat discriminatedthem whilefavoringmen.1Since thewomensuffrage movementsof the1960s, womenhavemanagedto gaintheir rightfulplacein theAmerican societyandotherpartsof theworld.Asa resultof thesemovements,womencan enjoybetterjobsandfairsalaryforthejobstheydo.In addition,womenholdhighpositionsin organizationsthan in thepastandtheycan participatein politicalprocesseswithout anydiscrimination.Womenrightsmovementshavealsocontributedto theincreasein educatedwomen.Asa resultof thismovement,there are manywomenwhohavegainedhighereducation,which has empoweredthem. Thus,itcan be concludedthatwomenhavemanagedto overcomethegenderstereotypesthattheyfacedin thepast.2

Bibliography

  1. Kinser, A. E. and Feminism: Seal Studies. New York: Perseus Books Group 2010.

  2. Miller, T. Making sense of motherhood: A narrative approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2005.