I am Mutinta, a mother, a wife, a sister, an aunt, a friend, but above all, a mother to all.
International Women’s Day today looks and feels different from any other we have known, mainly due to the devastating effects of the Covid19 pandemic. It is a particularly challenging time for women because we are naturally in the frontline of nurturing and taking care of our loved ones and those close to us, while also dealing with the negative social and economic challenges, many that existed even before the contagion.
This Day gives us an opportunity to shine the spotlight on issues affecting girls and women. Issues such as the girlchild forced into early marriage because her family cannot afford to send her to school; the emotionally and physically abused woman or girl who cannot speak out because she is too scared or society makes it difficult for her to do so; the helpless mother or widow struggling to make ends meet so that she can feed and educate her children; the girl or woman in school or in the workplace who is treated unfairly simply because she is a female. The challenges are many. What is a collective are we doing about these issues apart from merely speaking about them?
Covid19 Pandemic or not, women have borne the brunt of having to juggle multiple responsibilities such as running a home and a business, struggle to find employment or money for school fees; working as a professional trying to excel at her job, or getting a good education. Trying hard at all these, with very little pay or recognition. Is it not time we started paying more attention to the negative effects of women being left out?
But despite these and other challenges, which we really ought to speak about every day and work hard to find sustainable solutions to, on this day we also celebrate the milestones. A lot of women in Zambia and around the world have attained great success in politics, business, the academic field, engineering, and many other fields.
In the UPND, we now have a female vice president of our party and a team of vibrant hardworking women, ready to make a big difference to development in this country! Let us also celebrate the achievement of the average woman who wakes up every morning with very little resources, support, education and information, but is able to successfully run her home, feed and educate her family, with great struggle.
International Women’s Day is not only an occasion for us to wish each other happy messages, which we will easily forget tomorrow. It is a time to take stock of the status of women and girls and keep the conversation going beyond 8th March, about how we can improve, uplift, empower and enlighten girls and women in our society.