Continued from Being A Woman in 2020 Part 1, a woman living and relatively thriving in 2020 has an undeniable general liberation. Women changemakers are continuously knocking down barriers for the collective good just as everyday women are expanding and taking up space. This disruption has come with knowledge and emancipation- we know our rights, we know what we deserve, and we are collectively choosing to reach for our full potential.
Body Positivity and Beauty Standards
Unfortunately, the more globally connected we become, the more we subscribe to western standards. In the past, the continental standards of beauty tilted to our natural and genetic attributes which favoured fuller figures and all shades.
With exposure, however, this has changed, and the pressure is mounting to get the infamous Instagram body or hourglass figure. Not only that, but colourism has also become such a social problem that countries are moving to ban bleaching agents and products from local markets. More and more women are harming themselves with dangerous body-altering procedures and practices.
While it's easy to call for more self-love we cannot forget that women strive for these beauty standards to seem more desirable and accepted in an environment that idolises beauty. Luckily, self-love and acceptance are being packaged in alternate beauty standards under the body positivity movement. The movement has pushed brands and tastemakers towards inclusivity in all forms. Now we can see ourselves represented as we are and feel more comfortable to be our own beauty and body standards.
Owning your pleasure
Conversations about sex and sexual pleasure have become less taboo. Women are having more honest and open discussions about it - not only amongst ourselves, but with sexual partners as well. It’s a sexual renaissance where women are taking charge of our pleasure and shunning the societal shame in expressing sexuality.
This ‘freedom’, though, has limitations for African women in particular. Regardless of nationality and the level of education, we are all tethered to our cultures. For different women, this tethering is either a positive aspect that they choose to honour or a negative infringement that has to be reworked. Whichever side of scale one is on, we are privileged to have a wealth of information to empower us.
According to UN Women, over 2.7 billion women globally are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. Additionally, global unemployment rates for men and women stand at 5.5 percent and 6.2 percent respectively.
Conversely, women are over-represented in informal employment and unconventional work. Instead of accepting exclusion from the labour force and economic disenfranchisement, African women have found different ways to provide for themselves and their families.
There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit among women now. Whether it’s an investment group, farming, crafts, service provision or partnered business, women are upskilling and reskilling to make money. Just look to all of the online businesses and income-generating activities on your various feeds and be inspired to make your boss moves!
Relationships in a digital age
Being able to go onto a dating site and swipe left or right is the height of having options; something that is an invaluable indulgence to a gender that was expected to just get married and have babies as soon as we leave school - sometimes sooner.
The relationship arena has evolved, and women are open to waiting longer before marriage. There is even an interest in consensual non-monogamous arrangements that allow for more assorted experiences. The possibilities are endless.
Options, however, come with their own set of issues. The dating world had become a minefield of revenge porn, date rape, catfishing (when a person pretends to be someone they are not), stealthing (when a partner removes a condom during sex without your knowledge) and so on. Being aware of the pitfalls that come with modern dating will allow you to safely and shrewdly sow your wild oats.
Our liberties were carried forward on the shoulders of those who came before us. It’s time to do our part - or at the very least, live our best lives. This Women’s History Month, use whatever hard-won privileges we have, to speak up, shout out and forge forward!
What do you love about being a woman in 2020?