Participation in civic and electoral processes should be a right accorded to every woman, child and man regardless of their social, cultural or economic background. It is quite unfortunate that not all act on this right despite its influence on everyday life and the future. In this short article, I will divulge into the challenges that young women face as they become mothers and how motherhood could eventually impact on their level of civic engagement and participation.
A few years ago, as a young, working, single woman, I had little interest in civic issues which I assumed was for those who had interest in a future in politics. I seemingly was satisfied with the status-quo assuming, whatever the outcome, things would remain the same. This however changed when I entered motherhood as a stay at home mother. The sense of responsibility and the advent need to plan for the future has a certain influence on one’s perspective. All decisions will ultimately become the model to my children on how to become good citizens in the future, hence the need now more than ever to be an active citizen. It is important to note that no mother is the same, while motherhood increased my interest in civic issues, the impact may not be a common denominator.
The challenges relating to motherhood can put a strain on existent or non-existent civic activism. Working mothers seem to have more sense of civic responsibility than stay at home mothers. For some mothers, the new burdens, psychological demands and time constraints tend to have a negative impact on the level of activism. For example, some mothers may find it difficult to attend a community meeting, register to vote or even take part in any electoral process, let alone run for office because of time constraints in the home. As it stands, there are few young mothers I know who took time to register for the upcoming 2018 Presidential elections and there are definitely none that are running for office either. Considering the impact of the elections, I believe it is imperative for young mothers to form part of local and national leadership in order to play an active role in decision making
The election period tends to draw a lot of interest from the electorate, but very few people reflect on its influence and its impact. As it stands, there are no clear policies in place to ensure that young mothers are prioritized. Registration and voting centers are usually crowded, generating unnecessary strain for mothers which is why I believe they should be mother and child friendly in order to encourage young mothers to register to vote and participate in civic programs. As young mothers, there is need to reshape priorities by recognizing that failure to participate can affect and effect our children their future. There is no room for by-standing. Active participation means one would have played a role in reinforcing shaping the political, cultural and socio-economic landscapes of our communities.
Our strong sense of responsibility makes us a very powerful weapon when it comes to shaping civic and electoral processes. I wish more politicians and activists take note of the influence of mothers serve within their communities by creating enabling environments for civic education and participation. Communities need to support young mothers to participate freely in civic processes without holding them to ransom on the raising of their children. While some mothers may be comfortable with spending time at home cooking, mending, cleaning or cuddling their babies, there is need to eliminate common stereotypes that confine women to their domestic responsibilities. Now more than ever we need a rare breed of mothers who are active citizens and will raise children who are even more aware of the impact of their participation.
Finally, while this message comes as an appeal to young mothers, I believe it also resonates with every generation of mothers. Let our voices not be confined to the walls of our homes nor the ears of our children. Let our voices, our hopes and dreams for the future be shaped by our participation as active citizens raising future citizens. May young mothers actively participate in civic issues in order to enable issues affecting us on the national policy agenda.
By Talent Mathe
Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Criminology