Bayo Omolola, Baltimore City Community College

Whatever the shortcoming of women whose husbands are Alfa and omega in different countries of the world, people should see it, first, as the reflection of the men in power before seeing it as women's. In Africa, for instance, no matter how powerful women are, the culture makes them bend down and answerable to their husbands, even when they (women) are politically in control.

Looking at it from that perspective, it sounds sensible to approach the issue carefully so as not to make negative generalization about first ladies. Talking about first ladies is talking about women. Women have done more than men in keeping peace and working towards development of their families, which invariably translates into "women are nation builders." While men engage in adventures that keep many of them from standing by their children in terms of physical presence, women are always there to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of their families.

Men need to get themselves off the hook of their cultural beliefs, which have prevented many of them from using the same parameter they use to assess themselves to assess women. The idea of relegating women to the background, especially in Africa and Muslim countries in Asia, is against the progress of mankind. It is high time we stopped looking at women as if they should not exercise any high-level power. In Yoruba language, "Obinrin ateyinto!" ("Women: mere objects of sex!") is men's derogatory expression to reduce women to nothing when men want to prove or establish their superiority. It is not that Yoruba do not respect women. Of course, they do to a large extent that they hold women in awe as they think of supernatural power that women have. Yet, men like to show their pride by making the expression when they see women outsmarting or succeeding in something in which they (men) have failed!

Where first ladies misbehave, people should find out and ensure there is no bias in what prompted their misbehavior. This statement is not an excuse to free the Kenya's first lady from public criticism for her alleged behavior. Rather, it is to make people look at the issue objectively, and do adequate investigation about the incident so as to avoid making wrong judgement. I hope our African traditional and cultural lenses for seeing women will not prevent us from being objective in this modern time.

There are women of substance who have made good examples (some are still making good examples today) in positions of authority in Africa in particular and in the world in general. Less is heard about such women. If there has been any successful male leaders, men hardly attribute their success to their wives. However, when men failed in their leading positions, other men (women are not left out) will start pointing accusing fingers at the wives of leaders who have failed.

Although, our African culture has not really made women the majority in positions of authority, many of the lucky ones that have tasted power, directly or indirectly by curtsey of their husbands' access to corridor of power, have made impressive marks as leaders. Today, a shining example of African women leaders is Her Excellency Vice-President of The Gambia, Mrs. Aishatou Njie-Saidy, who has all qualities many African male leaders do not have. In spite of the charged political situation in The Gambia and unexpected palaver between the president and the media, this decent woman has always been performing as a good role model. I believe that many men would be skeptical about her holding the position successfully when she was first made a vice-president. Her shining example, today, is enough for other African countries to change their attitude towards women, and to allow women to be presidents so that they can repair all the damages men have done to the continent. Women deserves power and better portrayal.