What is the point of International Women's day

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In 2007, I took a decision to be more proactive with respect to addressing issues that impact rural women in country of origin in Ugandan.

Rowena- leader of the local Women’s group in Ruhanga

Following that decision, I have been down on a humbling journey that has seen me set up an online social enterprise that enables African women that produce handicrafts to access markets as well as a community regeneration charity that focuses on women and girls.

Brendah Asiimire – newest pupil at the Skills Development Centre- Ruhanga

Through the Bridging the Gap workshops in Uganda in 2013 and 2014, I sought to learn from African women on the continent as well as share my experiences.

On International Women’s Day 2015, I find myself in a reflective mood and I am filled with questions such as;

  1. What is the point of International women’s Day
  2. Why do we need days like -International women’s Day
  3. Has it helped advance women’s fight for equality
  4. Is it relevant to the African Woman, in particular rural woman

By posing these questions, I am not calling for the International Women’s Day to be banned. I am instead hoping that, we will stop and examine the utility of such a day.

In an effort to get this conversation going, I reached out to fellow bloggers here and this is what they had to say

Christopher Ejugbo

Questioning the International Women’s Day will land one in a minefield! Black History Month and other similar events will be questioned too. I think it is good to have one. It should be used to put the role of women in the lime light. It should also be used to remind everyone that there are places where they are still treated as properties. African women need to do more to embrace it.

Mary runs Glowing future, a project supports survivors of Domestic Violence  and here is what she had to say

 Everyone puts on all activities to mark the Day around the first 2 weeks of March. I find that I give more talks in March than any other month; but I get messages and keep working on issues relating to Women throughout the year. My thought therefore is that there should be less frenzy around this day but more focus on continuity,relevance and review of how far we have come and how much we need to progress.

On the issue of relevance- yes,in recent years the International Women’s day have provided a platform in Africa to address Inequality, but people are still threading carefully though a step in the right direction. The rural Woman is still not as supported as they should because in my experience and observation; the people on ground are not open to collaboration because their idea and perception of Charitable act/NGO/Social enterprise is different to those of us in Diaspora.

We will get there in the end; We will not give up.

Condition on Ugandan women- Data source Uganda Development plan 2010-2015

I agree with Mary, our quest to improve women’s circumstances should not start and end with International Women’s Day.  The info graph above on the condition on women in Uganda, shows that we need to do more in development terms to even  the playing field

Darren J. Elzie

We have, of course, just finished Black History Month. It was at one time only Black History Week and its purpose was and continues to be the raising of awareness about the history and conditions of Black people in the United States. While it makes some faint acknowledgements, the dominant paradigm does much more to silence and marginalize and devalue Black being, history, and culture.

Now, I can repeat much of what I have just said by substituting Women for Black. Sadly, the condition of women internationally is even poorer. So called developed nations have a better facade of progress, but women and womanhood is still understood as deficient and weak. Women carry the “shadow” of patriarchal systems. In far too many narratives, women must be covered, smothered, scattered, and sacrificed in order for men to control themselves. Sexual slavery is a more lucrative business than drugs. So, the point of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day is to raise awareness. The value of this cannot be overstated. Are there problems? Do competing agendas get in the way?

Sure there are problems and sure agendas can get in the way, but this doesn’t diminish the need. Sure, often those who would advocate are out of touch with those for whom they would advocate. We talk about this often when we talk about human rights and civil rights activities.

I think that International Women’s Day is a step in the larger work and struggle for the equality of women. It cannot be the only step. Much of the work has to be done at the grass roots because notions of equality are impacted by cultural norms and traditions.

There is diversity in the kinds of things that need to be changed. Sometimes, this diversity gets lost in narratives that would paint all women and all situations as the same. I think women of colour, particularly African women can get very lost in such narratives. I think that rural women can be left out all together. And yes, as Maslow points out, economics (the hierarchy of needs) play a huge role in how efforts to address inequality

An overarching question for me is whether we are at risk of merely paying lip service with respect to women’s issues in particular rural women. As we mark this day, we should reflect on what needs to be done to improve the condition of women throughout the year. We need to be vigilante and constantly ask the question Are we doing enough to bridge development gaps between men and women?

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