Aside Posted on
I had never celebrated International Women’s day like I did this year. I was impressed that it is a public holiday in Zambia. For the past 3 years on this day women and progressive men come out in large numbers to march in support of women development issues. These parades take place in all the districts in the country.
Pauline – my supervisor had informed me that women normally march in designated routes around Lusaka city and walk to the main venue where they march in front of the presidential dais.
On the eve of International Women’s day the radio stations had announced that many roads would be closed for the march. My organization – ZAMWA (Zambia Media Women’s Association) organized for a taxi to pick my colleague and I early and drop us at the starting point which was Munali roundabout. We were strategically positioned to view the parade which comprised thousands of women and a few men who had come to support.
It was a spectacular show. The women looked beautiful in their African kitenge outfits and suits. Members of the same organization dressed in a similar way. I was told that the employers buy outfits for their women employees’ purposely for this event. That’s incredible! I wouldn’t mind getting a beautiful, gorgeous dress every year from my employer.
They also carried banners which had their company logo and this year’s theme for the day, which was “connecting girls, inspiring future – mentorship for success”. Over 200 companies, organizations and government ministries were represented.
In the mid-morning it started to rain, I thought the women would run for cover but amazingly they braved the rain and marched on. By midday the whole group had marched to the venue – Lusaka show grounds.
Little to celebrate
However with the backdrop of all this pomp and glamour, all has not being well for Zambian women. There are escalating cases of gender based violence towards women; hardly a day passes without news of a minor who has been defiled or a woman who is nursing injuries after being battered by the husband. Many have also lost their lives and it’s sickening. The statistics are also alarming, for instance by December 2011 a total of 11908 cases of gender based violence had been reported and from the number only 2170 cases were brought before the courts of law.
It was no wonder the event started by observing a minute of silence in honor of the women we have lost through domestic violence. Speaker after speaker emphasized that there should be zero tolerance on gender based violence.
The president – Michael Sata who was in attendance commended the media for covering gender based violence stories and creating awareness on the vice. He said he was committed to ensuring women’s rights are observed.
As the occasion came to a close I learnt and at the same time was entertained. Gender based violence has to stop. We need to protect all girls and women from abuse. Both women and men should continue this fight against this scourge. We should not give up on protecting women and the girl-child. What type of future will we have if we don’t defend them?