Source: www.africanakua.com| Richard Fiebor, Ghana
Scores of people including organizations throng social media adorning their timelines, status, display photos, photo-video stories and walls with intriguing images and titles, the hashtags #IWD2019 #BalanceforBetter, as well as thought-provoking messages days before the celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD).
The paean in the celebration of women annually on the 8th of May originates from the 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference where German revolutionary Clara Zetkin proposed that March 8 be honoured as a day annually in memory of working women. The day has been celebrated as International Women’s Day ever since.
Eons away, women were not given a level playing field as men. They were barred from engaging in any intellectual or economic activities; any female who displayed any intellectual prowess for example, was accused of witchcraft and obliterated. So history has it that the bold ones disguised themselves as men before they could perform tasks associated with men like riding a bicycle or writing, reading and teaching. Women were generally perceived as sex objects and domestic tools. They cleaned the house, washed, cooked and serviced the men.
After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted by the feminist movement in about 1967.
The united nations began celebrating the day in 1975.
March 8 has been Women’s Day; Civil Awareness Day; Women and Girls Day; Anti-sexism day; and Anti-Discrimination Day.
This year the day is being celebrated under the theme: Balance for Better.
That implies that “a balanced world is a better world”. It does not have to be a man’s world. Therefore online, the questions being posed with the hashtag #BalanceforBetter are: ‘How are you continuing to forge a #BalanceforBetter after international Women’s Day?; How are you forging a more gender balanced world?’
Celebrating innovative and competent women on IWD provides direction and inspiration for others.
Today, www.africanakua.com and the whole of Africa celebrate Her Excellency the former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for being a strong, innovative, and a highly competent leader. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, Indira Gandhi Prize in 2012, Ibrahim Prize in 2017 and the Glamour Award, the chosen Ones in 2010.
Happy IWD to Her Excellency Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, the former President of Argentina. She was a determined political leader who shaped the political process of the whole of Latin America. Forbes Magazine named her the 16th powerful woman in the world in the list of the world’s 100 most powerful women.
IWD to Aja Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang of The Gambia. She is the current Vice President of The Gambia. She consistently fought for poverty alleviation, social justice and equity. She had also been advocating for women’s rights for most of her life.
Again, happy IWD to Joice Teurai Mujuru of Zimbabwe. She was Zimbabwe’s Vice President between 2004 and 2014. She was was appointed Minister in 1980 at 25 years of age. She was once considered to be President Mugabe’s successor.
Also, happy IWD to Sophia Abdi Noor- Kenya. She is the first elected female Member of Parliament from North Eastern Kenya. She is a teacher by profession but switched to politics. Being one of the founders of Womankind Kenya, a group formed to advocate for issues pertaining to women and girl child education, she fought against retrogressive cultural practices such as early marriage, wife inheritance and female genital mutilation.
Furthermore, happy IWD to Diane Shima Rwigara from Rwanda. She is an accountant by profession, but she is also vocal women’s right crusader who has openly criticized the government of Rwanda for bad governance, oppression and various forms of injustice.
IWD to Lindiwe Mazibuko, one of the youngest parliamentarians in South Africa. IWD to Mbali Ntuli also from South Africa.
And happy IWD to Alengot Oromait from Uganda. In 2012, she became the youngest individual in Africa, and globally, to be elected as a member of Parliament. At only 19, Alengot won the Usuk county with 54.2% votes.
Happy IWD to Eva Peron, Hillary Clinton, Theresa May, Opera Winfrey, Winnie Mandela, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, Theresa Kufour, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Georgina Wood, Sophia Akuffo.
Today’s Female Gender Activists must pay homage to earlier activists such as Leonara O’Reilly who was a Labour Leader and activist in the USA. She worked as an organizer and recruiter for the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL). She spoke in public for labour reform and women’s suffrage.
Another woman worth celebrating is Clara Zetkin, a 19th and 20th century German Politician, German Marxist theorist, activist and advocate for women’s rights. In 1911 she organized the first International Women’s Day.
And then there was Luis Zietz. She was also a German socialist and feminist. She was the first woman to occupy a leading party post in Germany. She also helped bring the socialist women’s movement into the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
Women have come far since 1911. Today we celebrate females in different fields including law, politics, engineering, science, journalism and even in industry and entrepreneurship.