Introduction – gender, cultural & economic inclusion, where is Africa?
If you are new to Africa, you may wonder on the topic of ‘gender, cultural & economic inclusion, where is Africa?’ If you live in the US or UK, the conversation about inclusivity of diverse cultures, genders, or religions is a familiar subject. For example, an employer in either US or UK cannot have a policy of discriminating against people of a certain race or colour in their hiring policies. Neither can an employer have a policy to discriminate on gender, sexual orientation, or religion. These seem to be clear cut areas where laws and society in UK and US have evolved to an extent that these practices would not be undertaken openly by a business, school, or other recruitment process.
However, an area that remains grey in most places is discrimination on economy basis. For example, if a clothing store decided to only target the high-end market through its pricing, would that be said to be discrimination? What about exclusive members clubs? These are clubs that charge top dollar for admission which effectively excludes some people. Should such clubs be charged with discriminatory practices? Generally, in business, price discrimination is common and almost an accepted practice. For some reason, people feel comfortable with such practices. Possibly, the reason for lack of much concern in the area is because most societies are capitalistic. This means, if you can pay for it then buy it and if you cannot pay for it then live without it. What is your view on this? In any case, let us turn to consider the situation in Africa.
What is the situation in Africa on – Gender, cultural & economic inclusion?
To begin with, since Africa is a continent rather than a country, the practices are not homogenous. Different countries are at different levels of progression in their laws and cultures on the area of inclusivity on gender, religion, or sexual orientation.
Personally, I have spent some time in the East African and Southern Africa countries. From this lived experience, I would say that indeed the levels of inclusivity or tolerance are very different. Inclusivity or tolerance in this case being in terms of gender, religion, or sexual orientation. On one side, you can be sexist, tribal, and intolerant in all ways with little to no consequence. While on the other side, you would face serious consequences for the same actions. The point I make is that in Africa, the level of inclusion ranges from none to high.
Of course, there are evidence consequences that you can observe from either side. The intolerant and exclusionary side tends to face issues of tribal clashes, civil wars based on religion etc, or gender degrading practices. If you have paid keen attention to African countries, these are practices that occur in some countries. That said, would I term the intolerant and exclusionary practices barbaric? Not quite. Rather, I would say that most tend to be a violation of some form of human rights. Hence, using laws and taking legal action might be a starting point to address the human rights violations.
What about economic inclusion in Africa?
As is the case in most other places economic exclusion is a common thing in Africa. The difference however is what is high end in a more developed country may not be what is high end in a less developed African country. For example, a high-end clothing store may not leave the exclusive impression in all African countries although it would in some countries. Also, high-end clothing brands are not in all African countries. Within the less developed countries there is however what are considered ‘cool people’ stuff. These could be basic things like healthcare, education system or transport system.
Irrespective of your origin you carry an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality. It could be motivated by your religion, economic status, education level, or any other bias. What is needed is to learn to unlearn your bias. Also, there is need to expose yourself to diverse views and perspectives to help break your biases.