Going through my e-mails , I came across an auto-reply from a South African colleague, saying she was on leave from work for a week, as part of Women’s Month commemorated in South Africa every August. Curious, I followed the website link she had provided to get an insight into what the commemoration was all about.
It turns out that South African women are among thousands of women across the globe that spend a month celebrating women’s contribution to the survival and existence of humanity in history and contemporary society.
Not only South Africa celebrates women’s history month but also the United States every March, and in the United Kingdom , Australia and Canada in October, women are celebrated. In South Africa, the month long commemorations were even marked by protests and marches, as thousands of women took to the streets, demanding the equal treatment of women in all sectors.
The popularity of women’s history celebrations has become widespread and in Africa it is increasingly becoming an important event on the feminist calendar. It has actually become a money spinner for women’s movements, who instead of using the money to assist the poor and marginalized women who need help, organise unnecessary workshops and other events. Yes, initially I was a bit disappointed that the World Woman’s Month does not appear on our national calendar and public holiday events, with the exception of the International Women’s Day, which largely goes unnoticed.
It is also sad to note that there is a black out on the month long celebrations in Zimbabwe, while in neighboring South Africa, it was a big event.
But on second thoughts, I realised that there was no real reason for Zimbabwean women to spend time questioning whether we celebrate or not. What women need to do is to establish whether the programmes that non-governmental organisations and policy makers have been implementing to help empower women socially, politically and economically, warrants any form of celebration, whether it be a day or a month.
For a long time, non-governmental organisations, the civic society, political parties and even the government have been mouthing platitudes on “women’s empowerment”, “gender equality”, “gender mainstream” and other equally empty euphemisms that have done little to improve the plight of the ordinary woman.
All these euphemisms have been supported by high-sounding national, regional and international conferences where women’s empowerment issues, have been discussed ad infinitum.
IT IS HIGH TIME THAT ALL THESE ORGANISATIONS MUST TAKE ACTION AND START PRACTICING DIRECT ADVOCACY FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND CHALLENGES USING A GRASSROOTS UP APPROACH….