World Women’s Day : Women Are The Back Bone of A Nation
8 March 2015
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The 8th of March is the world women’s day. While other women in some parts of the world are celebrating the mile stone and progress in the recognition of social, political and economic development of women; the same cannot be said about the women in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean women are the poorest and politically marginalized. The Zimbabwean women’s role has been reduced to praise singers as a way of seeking political recognition and upward mobility.
Most women in Zimbabwean politics today appear to have maternal links with men in politics. You will recall Shuvai Mahofa sang and danced until she collapsed during the ZANU PF’s non-elective Congress of 2014. Following her art of entertaining the powerful politicians during congress she was offered a ministerial position without merit. Grace Mugabe appears to use leverage from her husband Robert for political relevance and standing. There are other women in ZANU PF whose ascendancy in politics is influenced by their association with men in politics. Such politics is patronage based, retrogressive and renders women’s participation ineffective and irrelevant.
On the other hand Teurai Ropa Mujuru was ridiculed by men and even other women and expelled from the mainstream politics because she asserted herself in the political arena. Beatrice Mtetwa a renowned Zimbabwean female lawyer was harshly incarcerated by the ZANU PF government for standing up for the rights of the people of Zimbabwe. Jestina Mukoko, human rights defender and activist was severely tortured by the state agents for taking a stand against human abuses in Zimbabwe; so were other female human rights defenders Jenni Willams and Magodonga.
Women of Zimbabwe should consider stopping singing for their super or relevance and take their rightful political positions as thinkers and strategists. Women of Zimbabwe should never accept to be treated as if they are second class citizen or sub-human. The praise worshipping reduces them to child-like states. Women of Zimbabwe should think beyond political window, dressing and hero worshiping. The women focus should be on genuine women empowerment so that there is genuine women political participation and leaders at national and local levels working for both the interests of women and those of the country.
Women in Zimbabwe constitute the largest voting bloc. This has not helped the Zimbabwean women to use this strategic position to effect change for women by taking up leadership position in politics, industry and commerce. Women wield power to effect meaningful changes in the political, economic and social arena.
It is high time for women of Zimbabwe to stop singing and think. Women of Zimbabwe should begin to recognize themselves as being marginalized and relegated to back benchers in politics and political leadership. The acknowledgement and recognition of this undesirable status quo is going to be the beginning of their long journey to women emancipation in Zimbabwe.
If there is one thing women in Zimbabwe politics can accomplish, it is for them uniting and forming a formidable collective voice. Women of Zimbabwe have a greater chance to transform their fortunes and that of the country if they could utilize their voice in politics as they form a big voting constituency. This is a powerful constituency that women have and should be taken advantage of and used to give a voice to women in politics, both to promote the individual expression of the female gender and to ensure that women activists at all levels of political structures have input into national decisions.
Women of Zimbabwe should stop singing for men and advocate for women initiatives for providing women with the foundations of knowledge and education with which they are able to better combat inequalities based on gender. The discrepancies in gender inequalities in Zimbabwe politics are well known which women need to overcome and work towards by embracing social and constitutional changes in favour of women and for the good of the country.
Women in Zimbabwe should stop singing for men and start singing for themselves. The best way the Zimbabwean women can speak out clear and loud is by voting for their own needs and interests. Women can use their vote to bargain for change. Zimbabwe women therefore need to vote on issues of health, economic, fiscal and rights for women. They should no longer be blind followers and abstain from unhelpful partisan politics. They must stop singing; they need to listen, think, ask hard questions and demand answers from the current manipulative ZANU PF politics. The politicization of basic women’s health issues and the threats to women’s fundamental rights to privacy and dignity must resonate to non-partisan response to mobilizing initiatives for women to recognize and manage the risk of being marginalized in politics and social life.
Zimbabwean women please stop singing and vote with your brains. If women stop singing, women will begin to vote on benefits that accrue to them; vote on issues that have an impact on women. Many women are not yet clear of the threats to the rights of women because they sing and do not listen and take time to think. Sometimes they take things for granted as if those things were ordained by God, they let the current social order dictate to them on issues such as paternity, child care, maternity leave, birth controls, sanitary care, equal pay and prospects of promotion to management positions
Women make up the bulk of low-wage earners, are heads of households and are literally sick and tired of not having access to basic health and child care but they continue to be praise-singers for men who oppress them. This is the time for women to stand up for their gender rights. It is the women who assume the greater responsibility of taking the sick to hospitals only to find understaffed Health Service Centres with no medicines or too expensive to afford. It is the women that cook for the children only to find out that there is no mealie-meal and no money to buy one. It is the women that provide labour intensive jobs on farms and other economic activities but to their horror there is no pay for them at the end of each month or not enough to cover their basic needs. It is the women that provide the care for the sick in the community but get no support from the Zimbabwe government. It is the women that suffer domestic abuse but the law does not prosecute the perpetrators. It is the politicians that want the women to vote for them but give back nothing for their vote. Zimbabwe women must stop singing and start thinking in ways that will transform their lives.
Women suffer the pain of being evicted from their homes for non-payment of rent or failure to service mortgages. Women suffer the pain of having to look after hungry children in the household when they cry with hunger desperate for food. Women suffer the pain of marauding husbands demanding food when there is nothing to give. Women suffer the pain of caring for the sick knowing very well the chances of their survival are second to none. Women suffer the pain of domestic abuse influenced in many cases to the lack of money in the household. Women suffer the pain of delivering babies on unhygienic floors of maternity wards in major hospitals. Women suffer the pain when there is no water or electricity, the important resources in any household. Women suffer the pain of being excluded in management jobs in favour of men. Women suffer the pain of being used as sexual objects by men. Women of Zimbabwe should stop singing and think in the context in which things are said by the politicians to ascertain if what is said has relevance in meeting their needs.
Women must now stop singing and consider seriously running for political offices and become legislatures. They should have confidence in themselves; they should scale the political heights and convince themselves that nothing can stop them to occupy any political office on the land. This will help women to be more actively involved and advocate more on gender issues: women’s health, reproductive rights, child care and the economy. Access to reproductive health services remains poor and women’s health in greatest and grave risks. Baby deliveries are attended by unskilled health workers in substandard conditions in rural and urban areas resulting in high child mortality rates.
ZAPU is encouraging women to be visible and be loud in campaigning for women’s rights and speaking against marginalisation of women in Zimbabwe. Redressing gender inequality in Zimbabwe is given little political attention with implications that cut across many other issues. The root causes of gender disadvantage and oppression in ZANU PF government lie in the negative attitudes about women, gender disempowering social norms, oppressive political environment and discriminating power structures.
The ZAPU devolution agenda places emphasis on primary health based on bringing health service to people and a preventative approach to women health and wellbeing, economic and social development. Primary health care will cover family planning, mother care and new babies, women sexuality and reproductive health and rights, disease prevention and immunization, contraceptive programs, sexual abuse of women, teenage pregnancy and awareness, divorce and custody of children, health and sanitation, inclusion in economic activities and eradication of domestic violence.
ZAPU devolution will improve the economic status of women by encouraging them to get involved in micro enterprise and access to financial credit. ZAPU devolution of power will legislate for women’s rights to property and ownership of wealth.
Women of Zimbabwe this is your time to rise and shine, this is your time to lead the nation beacuse you have shown great abilities in managing homes and other corporate bodies.