8 March 2019
Woman; stay alert
I write today in this very special week where we commemorate International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is commemorated annually on the 8th of March across the world in recognition of the of women’s struggle for equality.
Thus tomorrow is no ordinary day. Tomorrow marks a global day celebrating the social, cultural and political achievements of women. It is also a day that marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
So I write it today in a world where so many strides have been taken to make lives of women better but still so much more still needs to be done. For today; there are many women who are not enjoying gender parity. Women still bear a disproportionate burden of the ills of this world. Somewhere across the world and indeed in this country of ours we have a woman today who is not getting equal pay or recognition with her male counterpart for the simple reason that she happens to be a woman.
Somewhere right now there is a woman who is living with HIV because she just never had the chance to protect herself. The odds were always stacked against her and she ended up sleeping with a man who would not use condoms because as far as he was concerned; he married her and thus should enjoy her without any protection even though she caught him cheating numerous times.
There is a woman who is peddling her body on the streets right now because there is no other way of looking after the children her husband or partner walked away from and does not provide for- because a mother does not have the same chance to just walk off and leave her own babies; in most instances.
There is a little girl who has been married off right now; because her family sees her as the only way out of poverty. She is a child but she had been forced to be with an older man. A common story; that one.
There is a female child who has dropped out of school today because she just cannot be given the same opportunity with a male child when resources are tight. I shudder to think of the little girl who has been raped by her own father or grandfather or uncle. There are many of them indeed. It is heartbreaking.
Then we have the many others who have been beaten and battered. And many others who lost their lives just this year alone. Yes; men who were meant to love them killed them. In some cases strangers also killed them just because of their frailer stature. A woman faces so many hurdles.
I can’t even begin to talk today of the women who are looking after the sick. The burden of looking after the sick falls on women largely. Women can never say they are tired. Even when they themselves are not well; our societies still expect a woman to get up and get going. The bulk of the HIV cases we have in this country are amongst women. And now today we have a rising threat in the form of Cancer. Cancer is posing a threat in the lives of women. The majority of cases are presenting in women. With women also bearing the brunt of HIV; it follows today that women are bearing the brunt of the Cancer burden. Cervical and Breast Cancer top the list.
I write to commemorate International Women’s Day when our mothers, sisters, aunts and we ourselves; are reeling from Cancer. In this country this has become the latest death sentence. Because as much as we are advocating for early diagnosis; cancer treatment is not that readily available.
Women are dying daily. Women are dying because health care is not guaranteed. Poverty is killing women. I heard a news bulletin on radio the other time which was saying only one radiotherapy machine is working in this country. Can you imagine what that means?
Those who don’t have resources to go out of Zimbabwe and seek treatment are dying right before our eyes. Many are living with Cancer until the very last stages with no intervention because of a lack of resources. Women are dying in pain because even pain management is not available. Towards end of last year; Island Hospice; which specializes in palliative care highlighted the shortage of Morphine, which is used in pain management for cancer patients.
Can we understand what these things mean for women with cancer?
Today drugs and medical consultations are being charged for in foreign currency in an environment where the majority of us do not earn in forex. Medical aid subscriptions have skyrocketed and even that does not guarantee anyone service. You are still asked to top-up or to buy medicines using forex in most cases. Anyway many people are not covered by medical aid and are reliant on the public health system; which has not been the most efficient with doctors striking and drugs not being available. You buy your own medicines to be treated.
Women who are having babies at the moment are in serious trouble with some taking shortcuts just because the costs are too prohibitive. Yes women are dying while bringing life into this world.
I know there are many other exciting things happening as women conquer boardrooms and run economies but today I just do not have the energy to celebrate that because the numbers are too small.
I write today seeing the faces of women who are ill; women who are living with different types of cancer; women who are living with HIV and are not getting services as and when they want; women who are dying because the Cancer has spread; the cancer is detected too late; the machines are not working; condoms are not for decent women; to survive through university a blesser is needed. I am seeing faces of women who are abused by their own lovers; women who are raising children alone because society has made it fine for men to shirk responsibility off onto the mother. I see women who are largely unemployed; who cannot get jobs. They cannot start businesses either because the conditions do not allow it. I write with sadness in me. Can we have a better day for women? I call on all women today to make it a point to go for regular screenings for Cancer. It’s the only chance we have. Lets amplify the calls for a better response this Women’s Month Women.
Woman; you matter too.
Happy Women’s Day!
About International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on March 8.
The day has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911.
The day is not country, group or organization specific – and belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.
Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
So make International Women’s Day your day and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women.
What is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day. Many organizations declare an annual IWD theme that supports their specific agenda or cause, and some of these are adopted more widely with relevance than others. International Women’s Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity.