Tuesday, March 08, 2016

PLANET 50-50 BY 2030: STEP IT UP FOR GENDER EQUALITY-IT MAKES SENSE

Chiku Lweno-Aboud, Dar es Salaam

It’s International Womens’ Day today. As a woman, I know the story. As an activist, I know it is more than rhetoric, as a human I ask WHY!!!

The theme for International Women’s Day 2016 is Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” We should not even have to ask for this. Because it is obvious. The world population ratio in terms of gender is almost 50-50 anyway… but why do we have to ask for this?


Why?
I ask why doesn’t  the suffering stop, the deprivation, the abuse…? Whose responsibility is it anyway. In one of my adventures as an activist, I had travelled to a Maasai village and was talking to different groups about the side effects of Female Genital Mutilation.

So, it was time to talk to Maasai elders….and before we started they innocently asked me why am I talking to them about FGM while I know fully well that it is “women doing it to girls, and women doing it to other women” therefore it had nothing to do with men. Seriously?

So I asked, are you not the ones authorising and endorsing it because you will not marry an uncut woman? Aren’t you who decide it is time for your daughter to be cut because that way she will get married and fetch you many cows? Are you aware that there are women in this country, from other tribes who are uncut and live full lives—married and all?

Why do people want to think abuse, discrimination or deprivation that happens to a girl or a woman has nothing to do with them? They conveniently forget that she could be their daughter, mother, sister, grandmother or a simple fact—She is a human being! Ok fast forward to this week. I am copying here the text as originally posted by the author on Facebook….

Stop Now!
“Tomorrow is International Women's Day and I wanted to share a story of what happened on Saturday night. I had parked my car at the Nyama Choma festival and behind a nearby car was a woman being forcibly and violently restrained by a man against her will. He had her in a bear hug and she was struggling and crying to be released.

At least 7 men (including 2 security guards) were within 5 meters. I asked several to intervene and they either ignored me or said it wasn't their business. I finally went and placed my hand on the violent man's arm, looked him in the eye, and firmly told him to let her go. I had to repeat about 6 times but was successful - he loosened his arms and she ran off (and thanked me profusely).

Now, I know there was a story behind it but I don't care: No man has the right to physically constrain, or even touch, a woman without her consent. Friends, can we please make it our business to intervene when we see gender based violence? Asante and happy women's day to all...Beth Jere”

I was speechless. My comment to her post was just a few words. “God bless you!”
This post went ‘viral’ as they say in the Facebook circles in Dar es Salaam. You ask yourself why are people tolerating abuse of another human being, particularly when it is a female?

We have a duty to Step up
I am writing this blog as my duty. As an activist, a woman, a human being. But I could not let this pass also because a man asked me to write something he can post on his page, on International Women’s Day. Nathan Mpangala, God bless you too and keep on promoting justice for all humans

We need more people speaking out, taking a stand and most important we need people to ACT against all injustices to women.

Women are half the population of the world anyway therefore Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality. It makes sense. Beth, Nathan, Everybody… Happy Women’s Day!

(Source: http://www.mamaye.or.tz, Drawings: Nathan Mpangala)