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Mavutu Conversations - Different aspirations

2024-06-28  Frieda Mukufa

Mavutu Conversations - Different aspirations

Women are tirelessly fighting against numerous narratives imposed by society, despite the prevalent argument that these issues are over-discussed. This resistance often faces backlash, and weirdly enough, the more women highlight these problems, the more problematic they seem to become. A recent encounter with a video featuring a Namibian woman inspired a deep reflection on these issues. 

In the video, she advises men and women in their late 20s and early 30s, who are single or unmarried without children, that life does not end because they lack these societal markers. This perspective challenges the cultural pressures that confine women to certain expectations, particularly regarding marriage and motherhood.

These cultural milestones create figurative corners that women are pushed into, corners whose very existence is a result of deeply-ingrained societal norms. From a young age, women are often told that failing to marry by a certain age will result in a lonely and miserable existence. 

This narrative perpetuates the idea that a woman’s worth is intrinsically tied to her marital status and her ability to bear children. Such expectations are not only limiting, but also harmful, fostering a culture of fear and inadequacy among women who do not conform to these societal standards.

The pressure to marry and have children by a certain age is a pervasive issue across many cultures. It often leads women to make life choices based on societal expectations rather than personal desires or readiness. This can result in rushed marriages, unwanted pregnancies and a general sense of dissatisfaction and unfulfilment. 

Women are frequently judged not on their achievements, skills or character, but on their ability to fulfil these traditional roles. 

This judgment comes from all angles, family, friends, media and the broader community, creating a suffocating environment where deviation from the norm is often in many cases seen as a failure.

Moreover, this societal pressure is not just a private concern, but has broader implications. For instance, women who choose to prioritise their careers or personal growth over starting a family often face professional penalties. They may be viewed as less committed or less reliable, impacting their career progression and opportunities. This dual burden of personal and professional expectations creates a significant barrier to gender equality, perpetuating the idea that women must choose between personal fulfilment and professional success. Which, if you ask me, is unfair in all aspects.

The narrative that women must marry and have children to be complete is not only outdated, but also fails to recognise the diverse aspirations and lifestyles that women may choose. It also disregards the fact that there are genuine women who do not want children at all. 

It is not a matter of convincing her otherwise, and/or something that is up for debate. In recent years, there has been a growing movement advocating for the acceptance of different life choices, emphasising that fulfilment and happiness are not one-size-fits-all, people do have different aspirations in life. Women are increasingly speaking out about their right to define their own lives, whether that includes marriage and children or not.

This pushback against traditional narratives is essential for societal progress. It challenges the status quo, and opens up space for more inclusive and diverse understandings of what it means to live a fulfilling life. However, this resistance often comes at a cost. Women who speak out against these norms are frequently met with resistance, criticism and even hostility. 

The backlash can be discouraging, yet it also highlights the importance of continuing the fight for change.

In conclusion, the societal pressure on women to marry and have children by a certain age is a significant issue that needs to be addressed. While society may claim to be tired of hearing about these issues, the persistence of these narratives shows that the fight is far from over. Women must continue to bring these issues to light, advocating for a world where their worth is not determined by their marital status or ability to bear children. The journey towards breaking free from these cultural milestones is challenging, but it is crucial for creating a more equitable and inclusive society where everyone has the freedom to pursue their path to happiness.


* Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section in the New Era newspaper concentrates on women-related issues and parenting. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content-creation.

2024-06-28  Frieda Mukufa

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