International Women’s Day Theme – “Be Bold for Change”
The Zimbabwean State translated this to Theme –
“The woman we want is bankable, business minded, brainy, beautiful bold, blessed and balanced”
March 8 of every year signifies an important milestone in the gender race as we commemorate the International Women’s Day. On this occasion, members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) are joining women in the world over and Zimbabwe, to commemorate this day. However WOZA commemorates this day with a heavy heart as women continue to lose their lives whist giving life, childbirth should be a time for celebration not mourning. Women toil daily, scavenging to put food on the table trying to turn the dream of a decent meal into a reality for their children.
The day showcases social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women in its advocacy to create awareness of the contribution of women to the development of society as positive agents of change. This year’s theme, ‘Be bold for change’, could not have come at a better time, especially when change is the talk of the day in the country but no one is walking that talk. There is a lot of active change that is required in order to bridge the gender discrepancies that exist in our country and restore democracy.
The international theme challenges each individual to be leaders within their spheres of influence by engaging in practical non-violent actions to narrow the gender gap and help women and girls realize their full potential. The Theme as selected by the Zimbabwe government is little more than window dressing in a country with a crashing economy and patriarchy becoming more entrenched daily.
Zimbabwean women have more progressive laws, policies and constitutional rights compared to the Rhodesian women. These Rhodesian woman white or black could put three decent meals on the table and go about her informal trading without much harassment. When pregnant Rhodesian women only had to register to arrive to deliver her child carrying only baby clothes. In the Independent Zimbabwe of today, women with all their so-called racial equality, progressive laws can hardly put one meal on the table. She cannot afford the pricey maternity fees which only covers a bed. She is required to bring bandages, gloves, scissors, water drips, needles, clipper to tie the umbilical code, methylated spirit and cotton wool. If unlucky to need an operation she has to bring a complete kit including the scissors used to cut your abdomen. The pregnancy nightmare could continue with your detention under guard in hospital if you cannot pay the bill. Even then if you don’t pay in full, birth records of your child are withheld.
With this comparison of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe WOZA note that Independence Day 2017 looms. Zimbabwe will turn 37 but there will be no joyfulness on that day as women don’t feel independent despite the protracted liberation war. It is women who face the brunt of injustices perpetrated by the state in the socio, economic and political arena making them slaves to a political elite calling the shots. WOZA calls on institutions, organisations, state leaders and citizens to take an honest look at themselves. As they self-introspect WOZA pray they realise that this suffering is alien to democratic systems, structures, beliefs and gender parity – it is imposed by dictatorship and patriarchy.
Zimbabweans accept that the time has come to actively change our state of affairs. The onus is on the whole population of us women by and large to challenge the status quo for change to be effected. Cognizance has to be taken to the fact that it is our right as humans and as women to be heard and hold those around us accountable as we play our citizenship role. Instead WOZA suggest the theme for International Women’s Day should be WOMAN – TAKE CHARGE
SHE must TAKE CHARGE to ensure gender perspectives be integrated into policy decisions, legislation, development plans, programmes and all other spheres of life.
SHE must TAKE CHARGE to demand Zimbabwe fulfil obligations to ensure all citizens enjoy all human rights which include socio economic, cultural and political rights.
SHE must TAKE CHARGE of food production to bring food security through all sustainable farming projects and agro businesses.
SHE must TAKE CHARGE of balancing her life though business and social volunteerism and participation in community upliftment.
SHE must TAKE CHARGE and demand government support the right to earn a living and trade in all business spaces be there street or board room.
SHE must TAKE CHARGE and demand government harmonises the constitutions so that all laws supporting the full realisation of women rights are fully implemented.
SHE must TAKE CHARGE and bring into being a free, quality and equitable education for our girl children that will enable them to live quality lives.
SHE must TAKE CHARGE of political spaces and campaigning so that genuine candidates are selected in all party primary elections processes. Candidates who must have the message of gender equality, equity and social justice drummed into their heads so they can’t sleep at night thinking of how they can deliver their election promises.
SHE must TAKE CHARGE of rebuilding their lives after the recent floods have rendered them homeless. As we stand in solidarity with the many including our members in Tsholotsho we note the deafening silence of the government making no effort to deal with the situation and restore their dignity.
To the Women of Zimbabwe, we say ‘arise’ and swim against the tide and support the SHE that is TAKING CHARGE and also take a turn to TAKE CHARGE yourself. Rise up and take your positions in the socio-economic realm of this country. Innovation and transformation is key in changing the dire situation we find ourselves in as the women of Zimbabwe, thus now is the time to TAKE CHARGE and non-violently challenge individuals and institutions to become more engendered.
As WOZA we will play our role in supporting, empowering and amplifying the voices of women as they TAKE CHARGE to deliver accountable governance to the nation.