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8 Things that Nairobi women have to endure

The International Women’s Day was celebrated all over the world earlier this week all over the world. In some countries, the day – Wednesday March 8 – was marked in pomp and colour.

In others, it was held in grim circumstances of protests and street marches. Conferences were held in hotel halls and the ills that the society has put women through over the years were paraded. They talked of how women can band together to keep the fight.

In Nairobi, the things that city women have to go through at the hands of men and at the hands of the society in general are as appalling and as gross as elsewhere. As the International Women’s Day week, ends, here are 8 things that city women today, have to endure.

1. Sexist discriminatory practices during the hiring process for corporate jobs

Ever walked into an office and wondered why and how come all the ladies in that office are beautiful and look like they fit a certain ‘type’?  This is not about front office people. This is a situation where almost all the females in an office fit a certain physical profile. Young, beautiful, of certain skin hues and in some cases, body type.

The flip-side, is that there are several other women, who interviewed for jobs at the same firm and were discriminated against because they were not beautiful or pretty enough.

Then there are those offices and companies that (for no technical reason like need for physical strength or conflict/ war zone considerations) prefer hiring men. They just hire more way more men than ladies. Places where less than 10 percent of the workers women.

2. Misogynistic work environments

Once through the office front door, city corporate ladies have to deal with male colleagues who want and sometimes demand non-work related services from them. A sort of extension of household duties: Go get me coffee. Take my coat to the dry cleaners across the street. Pray for us – at the start and finish of the meeting. Go hold the queue for me at… Accompany me to the dinner on Friday… etc

Most women at the office do as asked because they don’t want to ruffle feathers. If they refuse, men tend to get cold towards them, especially if the man asking is a senior.

3. Open and blatant office sexual harassment

Few ladies in Nairobi can genuinely say that they have never been sexually harassed at work. There is always that guy who won’t let ladies be at the office – the type of man who wears sweaters. Or the sly guy from across the hall with some loud perfume scent and sleek hairstyle. Or the senior guy who earns twice what the lady earns. Or the boss.

These men never relent. They pursue women, sometimes multiple women in the office in the office, with the rabidness and viciousness of a jackal or a mad-dog. They never got the memo about office ethics and code of conduct or, they got it but ignored that section of the contract.

They go full blown seduction mode; offer lunch, drinks, gifts, trips (company trips included) and when they fail or are rebuffed, they punish the women; bad assessment reports, transfers, reduction of salaries, being passed over during promotions and in some cases, sacking.

HR offices in Nairobi are full of sexual harassment complaints by women gathering dust on their shelves or archived in their email inboxes. Seduction at work is one thing, harassment is another.

4. Violence at home

A good number of men in Nairobi still believe in beating their wives and girlfriends as a way of ‘taming’ them. I figure most men in Nairobi are basically villagers with some basic education.

In most estates in Nairobi, women wailing in their houses as they get beaten are so common that it raises no eyebrows. In fact, people listen gleefully as they strain to hear the specific words, but they NEVER intervene.

5. Taking care of men

There are men in the city who fully or partly depend on their wives or girlfriends for their upkeep and survival. They live in houses paid for by women or worse, they moved in and live with the lady in her house, men who ask for cash from their girlfriends or wives so they can fuel their cars or take a bus to town. Men, who know no shame, and live off women like infants. Nairobi men reversed roles on women.

6. Dead beat dads

It is obvious that the numbers of single mothers in Nairobi are swelling daily. Women whose partners took off the moment they heard the words ‘I’ve missed my period’. These women have to work two three jobs (side hustles included) to take care of babies on their own while some lazy, irresponsible and immature man goes on with his life.

Some of these women discontinue college because of the pregnancies; some of the children in question are sick with terminal conditions or are disabled. The father…? Find him at the club or with his next catch or at the boardroom presenting pie charts and graphs to clients.

7. Pressure to get married and threat of divorce

More and more ladies in the city can’t get good men to marry or get married to. Back at home, their mothers and fathers want grand children. Pressure. Pressure. Once they are married, divorce hangs over their heads like the Sword of Domiciles.

8. Unequal pay at work

Men in Kenya, in most jobs/careers earn higher than women in similar positions. That must really suck, especially, since they have the same responsibilities.