by Sharon Kipsang

The consequences of patriarchy ripple through all levels and corners of society. We are aware of the consequences and unaware of others. Patriarchy is defined as a social or political system that has chosen to identify men as superior to women. This enables an unjust system that promotes violence against the latter gender in all spaces, be it at home, the workplace, streets, online or even inside religions. Patriarchy serves men with toxic entitlement towards women. 

All women have experienced some form of patriarchy, whether they are aware or not. Most times it manifests itself in the form of small actions such as catcalling, the groping of women’s body parts without consent, or men simply choosing to dismiss women’s opinions. This takes me back to the time a female celebrity came out to social media about how a learned man she wanted to work with commented– and I quote “Women these days think they can talk and think, and all they talk is rubbish.” This came after she had given some input.

However, I still remain of the opinion that a little exposure and education can go a long way in smashing the patriarchy. Men and women are allowed to have different opinions, opinions that should both be respected. The statement made by the male celebrity is still etched in my mind, even now. Has the advocacy work conducted not been enough? What about the constant demonstrations and the policies that have passed? Have they not been enough? How are we going to uproot this tree of patriarchy that doesn’t seem to wither?

Knowledge seems to be the only answer. Plenty of education is needed to dismantle this system whose seed is planted from as early as childhood. Young men should be encouraged to respect and value women from an early age. This will help prevent discrimination against women and curb acts of viloence.

Despite the situation, organisations like The Advocacy Accelerator, whose community I am a member of, both excite me and give me hope. Through the Challenging Patriarchy programme, the AAC works with 30+ young feminists to empower and push for the breaking the patriarchy. To challenge the patriarchy, everyone should be held accountable and responsible; even the men, and especially the men.

In a world free from patriarchy, we will have a chance to build a free and safe society where everyone is respected, valued and supported. Everyone is given an equal chance to thrive, irregardless of gender.

Sharon Jelagat is a Mental health, children’s right and education enthusiast. She works at believe mental health care organization as a program manager. She believes in instilling a culture through education at a very young age. She has been in the humanitarian field more than 4 years working in different capacities with children, adolescents and women. Sharon believes in conversation as a tool for change as they inspire, impact and bring forth change.

About Challenging Patriarchy

The Challenging Patriarchy programme is a 12-month capacity strengthening initiative for young feminists in East Africa. The programme aims to build a cohort of young feminists through enhanced feminist advocacy capacity strengthening, who understand and challenge patriarchy as it affects their lived realities.

About the Author

Sharon holds a bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution and humanitarian assistance from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.