Mmegi Blogs :: August is women’s month!
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Friday 21 September 2018, 15:09 pm.
August is women’s month!

On 9 August 1956, 20 000 South African women of all colours, black, brown, pink and white travelling by all modes of transport , kombi, private car, bus, train, converged in Pretoria to hand a petition against passes for black women to JG Strydom the Premier of Apartheid SA.
By Michael Dingake Tue 08 Aug 2017, 15:59 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: August is women’s month!

Hitherto the hated pass document known as dompass or badge of slavery, in the black ghettoes was carried by male Africans only . An attempt had been made decades previously, and meeting a militant resistance from the women organizations, was shelved until the early 1950s. Women had started with provincial protests, and it was time to mobilize the whole country to descend on the capital, Pretoria, to scare the wits out of Strydom, singing, “wee Strydom, wa thinth’abafazi , wa thinth’imbokotho uza kufa …!’ (Hey Strydom, you have struck a rock you’ll die!}  Not long thereafter Strydom was  no more!

Women the world over have been enslaved, subjugated, discriminated against , genitally mutilated and abused without let and hindrance. When the democratic system of government was conceived women were not supposed to be part of it by design; they were denied the vote even in those countries that pioneered the democratic system. Women had to fight with all their might to be recognised .

The fight was done through the Suffragette movement. Women leaders went on hunger strikes, chained themselves to poles and did all they could to express their objection of being treated as children. Unbelievable but true, did you know the Cape Colonial government gave the male Africans, the qualified franchise before white women were allowed to vote?

A qualified franchise was one granted to African males, provided the male had attained a certain standard of education or had property of some defined value. The Cape Africans lost this privilege when the Union of South Africa was formed after the Anglo-Boer war of 1899-1902. The point is, Britain, the oldest modern democracy, discriminated against their womenfolk  more than they did the Cape Natives!      

The Suffragette movement had to fight hard, for years before women in the oldest democracies could be recognised as full citizens. You see, even the conceited America, in spite of her ‘exceptional ism,’ ringing self-praises about being a beacon of democracy and human rights, has still to register her first woman president!

After close on300 years of democracy and more than 40 presidents, US had the first black president in 2008, but the first woman president for the land of stars and stripes, has still to be celebrated. When it comes to women rights , in the male-dominated spheres, we must agree  women are sadly regarded as inferior humans. Don’t point an accusing finger at those lands who don’t allow females to drive automobiles! All human societies, in varying degrees don’t fancy human rights for their womenfolk.

In our continent, Africa, we look at Rwanda with admiration. With more than 60% of women MPs, we should say


bravo to Paul Kagame, reported to have worn a third term by an unheard of 98% landslide after amending the constitution; African presidents who sincerely intend to empower their women should benchmark on the Rwandan president.

Empowering women and making them equal with men can be done if and when the responsible leaders put their minds to it. There is nothing complicated about it. SADC governments, Botswana and Swaziland, excepted under the SADC Gender Protocol are doing what they can to fulfill their obligations under the Protocol.

The Republic of South Africa according to estimates has women MPs and women cabinet Ministers hovering around the 40% mark . In the coming 2019 general elections no less than four women presidential candidates have declared their interest. This will certainly sway the attitude of more community members to push forward some of their women to target the presidency as a common ambition for women. 

It is time there be a visible movement of women to executive positions right at the top of the ladder!  Everywhere one looks women are still regarded as chattels to be exploited, abused and discarded. Yet women are the life-givers, the sweeteners of the life they give, the beautifiers, the nurses and the entertainers.  Without women, life wouldn’t be; where it occurred by accident it would be dull, unattractive and unlivable. As late as the early 1990s women presidential candidates were unheard of.

But we have since had a woman president in Malawi for two years. Liberia has a woman president about to complete her second term in office; in South Africa we had a woman deputy president under the Thabo Mbeki administration In 1994 Uganda had Hon Wandera Specioza Kazibwe as the Vice President to HE Museveni;  there have been a few women premiers in a number of other African countries. Politics is not at all static in Africa. Admittedly it moves at glacial and unexciting pace..

In observing this month of August as the women month, we should think hard on how the process of women empowerment and the equality of men and women can be expedited and brought to its finality. While our female counterparts are discriminated against by our laws and treated as underlings we shall fail to attain the human development target we so much wish to achieve.

We simply cannot do it when we allow 50 percent of our human resources to be underutilized or completely unused. In 1995 the Beijing Conference under the auspices of the United Nations adopted the Platform For Action with timelines. Of course these timelines have been disappointed, nevertheless the objectives remain valid and beckoning for commitment.

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