INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
[10 March 2019]
‘The best judge of whether or not a country is going to develop is how it treats its women. If it’s educating its girls, if women have equal rights, that country is going to move forward. But if its women are oppressed and abused and illiterate then that country is going to fall behind’’ -Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America.
Commemorating Women’s Day
Veritas joined the world on 8 March 2020 to celebrate women on International Women’s Day. The day is commemorated worldwide every year on 8 March to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Women play a big role in all spheres of life but often do not get the recognition they deserve. So the day is set aside to recognise and honour each and every single woman for whatever work they do and to let them know that they count and that they are valued as women. The day also reinvigorates the campaign to champion and accelerate gender equality. Feminism is about gender equality which aims at giving women the same opportunities and rights as men in society. Despite the popular misconception gender equality is not about oppressing men but about removing the barriers that oppress women such as discriminatory laws and policies as well as biased mindsets, attitudes and practices that prevent women from participating fully and equally in society. Women should be able to participate fully and freely in social and economic activities and have their contributions recognised and equitably rewarded. The world has more to gain economically and socially on all development pointers if the status of women is enhanced.
‘’Feminism is about gender equality. Misandry is about hating men. Female supremacy is about women dominating men. The definitions are very clear and easy to understand. The only people who deliberately obfuscate feminism with misandry and female supremacy are antifeminists attempting to hide their antifeminist position’’ Annie Chant a feminist.
This year it is a double celebration at Veritas because our women’s desk Veritas Women is celebrating its first anniversary. Veritas Women is a legal advisory service to promote women’s rights by disseminating relevant information on women’s legal rights and providing legal advisory services. Veritas Women is an interactive forum open to all on an array of media and communication platforms. The Veritas Women website www.veritaszim.net is a useful resource for women’s legal issues and information. It features comprehensive information and answers to the most frequently asked questions on women’s issues and rights. Visitors to the forum interact via email on firstname.lastname@example.org, WhatsApp 0774261114, SMS, Facebook and Twitter. Live chat assistance is also available on the website.
Women’s Rights Generally
This year’s women’s day comes in the 25th year of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. In 1995, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, United Nations member states and women from around the world participated in creating the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA). The declaration asserted for the first time that women’s rights are human rights and therefore member states need to protect them.
The Beijing Declaration enjoins UN member states to abide by the 38 points of the declaration and submit reports every 5 years. Member states have to actively promote gender equality through enacting laws and policies which contribute to fulfilling the declaration. They should protect women’s rights and remove all practices, laws and policies that threaten women’s well being. Governments of member states no matter how resourced they may be cannot do this alone. This is where women’s organisations such as Veritas Women come in. They play very important roles in their different capacities to promote the ideals of Beijing.
Veritas Women does its role to promote those ideals by impacting the lives of individual women. Through linkages with stakeholders like government, parliament, civil society, women’s organisations, donors and individual women and men they help amplify women’s voices. The Veritas Women website empowers women with pertinent information about the law and women’s rights. Empowered women are those who know the law and how to assert their rights.
The findings of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) survey recently reported by Aljazeera highlights the need to speed up and amplify calls for gender equality. The UN found that everyone including women themselves is biased against women. 90% of people in 75 countries are prejudiced against women in some way. The 75 countries have 80% of the global population so the results are quite instructive and show that the world still has a long way to go before achieving gender parity. This shows traditional attitudes about gender roles have barely changed despite decades of championing women’s equality. The results show that negative attitudes towards gender equality are actually growing in 31 countries and this is quite disturbing because a lot of work has been done to change attitudes.
Regarding politics and decision making despite the incessant global conflicts and mismanagement of economies there is still a belief that men are better at political and business leadership. Only 10 out of 193 governments worldwide are headed by women despite men and women voting at the same rates. 40 percent of the people said men are better at business and more deserving of jobs when jobs are scarce. Even more disturbing is that despite decades of fighting against gender based violence more than 25% of the people think it is justified for men to beat their wives.
In conclusion bearing in mind the results of this UN survey it must be reiterated that commemorating women’s day and promoting women’s equality is not about making life difficult for men but about making life easier for women.