On March 8, women everywhere observe International Women’s Day (IWD) every year. On this day, women celebrate their successes in their fight for gender equality and bring attention to issues that still need to be addressed to improve their position in society.
This year IWD comes after a huge milestone: the January Constitutional Court ruling against child marriages stipulating the age of 18 as the legal minimum age to get married. In 2015, IWD celebrations at the Harare International Conference Centre happened amidst campaigns against the street harassment of women triggered by the public stripping and sexual harassment of young women in urban areas.
Last year’s ‘mini-skirt march’ among other forms of lobbying, yielded victory for gender activists as two touts who had publicly stripped a woman for wearing a mini skirt at the Fourth street kombi rank were found guilty of indecent assault and sentenced to one year in prison.
These events show that IWD celebrations are as relevant to women in Harare as they are to women in other cities around the world where the day is marked and celebrated.
IWD was first established in 1910 in Copenhagen. The following year, celebrations were held in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. No set date was agreed upon until 1975 during International Women’s Year, when the United Nations began celebrating IWD on 8 March. This year’s theme is a “Pledge for parity” which urges government commitment to non-gender discriminatory policies.
Harare News spoke to Harare women who had different opinions about the day but who acknowledged its’ importance in honouring women worldwide.
Sinqobile Mpofu Chitapwa says the day should also be an opportunity to raise awareness about women who are still marginalised in other countries.
“If a man can be appointed CEO of a company, a woman with the same qualifications should also stand a chance be appointed as one,” she said.
Pha Mlimu concurs saying, “The day is about equality. If a girl is given a chance to go to school just like a boy, this will reduce the probability that she will be forced into marriage.”
Below are some events taking place in commemoration of this day:
Image: Women’s Day Celebrations at Women’s University of Africa last year
Image credit: Women’s University in Africa