Character: Build It Here
Where Are All the Women?
“Where are all the women?” Abayomi asked, looking around as he followed Avana upstairs to the nursery.
“What do you mean?” Avana replied.
“The women.” repeated Abayomi, “In my village the women come and stay with the new mother until her strength returns. They cook and clean and take care of the baby.”
“This is America,” Avana laughed, “We go it alone.”
Abayomi shook his head. Avana lifted Yvette from her crib. A smile spread across Abayomi’s face as Avana handed the baby to him.
“I haven’t held a newborn baby since I left Nigeria.” he said.
Abayomi sat down in the rocking chair cradling Yvette in his strong African arms.
“Are you humming Nigerian lullabies?” Avana asked.
“Yes,” Abayomi replied, “songs that will carry Yvette to Africa where she will be loved by the all the women from my village. Stories to make her heart strong, so she will never fear any man.”
“I sing old campfire songs to my children because the lullabies I know are frightening, like “Rock-a-Bye-Baby” where the cradle falls out of a tree and the baby comes tumbling down. That’s a story for a nightmare! Instead, I sing songs to my children about the fishy swimming down the stream on a bright summer day. Guess it doesn’t really teach them anything, but it least they don’t get scared. But I would like to learn your lullabies. I want my daughter to grow up without fear,” Avana declared.
Abayomi smiled, “Maybe the Nigerian lullabies will give you courage as well.”
That night as Avana lay awake images of African women floated by her thoughts. She had never been to Africa, but ever since she could remember, Africa had been in her head. Like the painting she did in fourth grade. A watercolor of brightly-clothed African women walking through a jungle on their way to the river with baskets of laundry on their heads. There’s something about African women - the way they dress, the way they walk, the way they sing - that epitomizes the beauty of a woman’s soul, a rich tapestry finely woven with the threads of intuition, nurture, and peace.
Back in 2008 when Lehman Brothers shuttered its doors, signaling the onslaught of financial ruin for so many, the guys on Wall Street said that if women had had more power, more authority around the table, so to speak, the economy would not have crashed in ’08.
They went on to explain that women would not have allowed them to take advantage of investors by packaging toxic financial products and selling them around the world. The men knew that they could not over-inflate the housing market without consequences. They knew that housing prices would not keep going up indefinitely. They knew that poor people could be duped into thinking that they could get a home loan without a shred of collateral or even a stable income. The men knew that evictions would roll like a trail of falling dominoes. They knew that they would walk away with billions while the rest would lose their life savings. None of this bothered them enough to stop them from doing all this damage. Too bad, they lamented, if only there had been enough women around to stop them from behaving badly. Where, oh where, were all the women?
Perhaps now is the time for men around the world to band together and use their male power to ensure an environment for women and girls that will develop female power in education, business, and government. Just think of what could come of both types of power running tandem. Oh, the possibilities...
Here is an article in The Atlantic, “The Lagarde Consensus: Why Women are Better Leaders than Men”, April 12, 2015
Here is an article in The Guardian: “Inside Job: How bankers caused the financial crisis”, February 17, 2011.
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