Yesterday, March 8, 2019, marked another day dedicated to the celebration of women of all calibre around the world.
On such a day, we recognise and appreciate all women, be they wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters and friends. The contributions of all those women out there, whether it is strapping the baby to the back to give him or her comfort, or fetching foodstuff from the farm to make the family’s dinner, are gratefully acknowledged.
All the sacrifices and the selflessness of women, their passion and commitment to duty have been commended many a time, be it in the home as mothers and wives, balancing of roles, be it at the office, in the market place or in the farms, women have found time and space in their hearts and minds to ensure peace and tranquility for as long as it depended on them so development could thrive.
No wonder the world body, the United Nations (UN), has deemed it appropriate to institute a day of remembrance for women from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Think Equal, Build smart, Innovate for Change”.
One could not have agreed more with the theme set for this year’s celebration. Under no circumstance should any woman or girl belittle herself in her own eyes thinking certain tasks are not cut for women or that they are the reserve of men only. In the same breath, no woman or girl should allow herself to be boxed to a corner whether in the midst of male siblings, by their parents, in a classroom or at work to think that they are only women and therefore set within limits.
Rather, women should see themselves as equal to every task and apply themselves to it. After all, nothing ventured is nothing gained. What matters most is the exhibition of confidence and the boldness to step into the dark terrains where no man has ever trod and take those smart strides to success. It does not matter how gargantuan the task, what matters is how overwhelming the resolve to make that change happen so that others could benefit from the exploits.
In this 21st twenty-first century, many glass ceilings have been broken and scattered by women of excellence. There are now countless examples of successful women in many fields. The journey may not have been easy. They may have encountered much resistance both from within and from outside the home, but what we know for sure is that due to their resolve and the determination to chart smart paths and innovate for change, their “can-do spirits” have made our world better by far.
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Our illustrious smart women whom we celebrate today have worked assiduously to change the once-upon-a-time status quo that women were to stay behind and not be seen in front. We cannot thank all these women well enough.
As we celebrate another special day for womanhood, we may also need to focus our minds on some of the violence and antiquated practices in the name of traditional customs which have hindered the freedom and development of women and girls. Such violence, discrimination, abuses and injustices that society has piled on women and girls to reduce them to second class citizens must be stopped.
In this day and age, widows in some parts of the country are made to go through months and years of dehumanising widowhood rites referred to as spiritual cleansing. The practice of female genital mutilation continues unabated and has left some young women and girls in certain cultures traumatised and sometimes hurt for life.
The same goes for underage girls given in marriage. They are forced into betrothals that leave them unhappy and are against their wishes. Perhaps the most agonising of all the violence against women is the creation of witches camps where some women are banished from society and “sentenced” to abuse and maltreatment because they are suspected with evil powers.
What International Women’s Day does for us as countries within the UN is that we get reminded, in case complacency has set in, that no one can build a successful and developed country by leaving behind its women and the future of their girls. The change from discriminatory practices has arrived at our doorstep.