Let every month be women’s month
The month of August was anointed as Women’s Month after the August women’s match on Union Building in 1956. That match was to protest against the extension of the Pass Laws to women. That match took place 65 years ago, 65 years since we have been doing women’s month without things getting better for women and the girl child. Rather than getting better, things have been getting worse. Check out the statistics.
It makes sickening reading. Rape after gang rape after ending a relationship after accusing women of adultery, which constitutes disrespect to the men and the family for which men – family heads (being men) and brothers must murder their daughters and their sisters. No wonder South Africa is known as the ‘destination of femicide’. More than 2,700 women have been murdered through gender-based violence, according to reports.
One of the anti-women achievements of COVID-19 was locking women down with their victims! “Government’s GBV (gender-based violence) and Femicide Centre, a call Centre to support victims of GBV, recorded more than 120,000 victims in the first three weeks of the lockdown.”
There is a method of empowering women: put them in positions of power. How many women head state-owned economic enterprises? How many women are in important positions and professions? Judges, advocates and solicitors? How many women are in parliament? How many women are ministers? The apartheid parliament had 2.4 per cent women in these positions on the eve of the 1994 elections. That first ever-democratic election brought the figure to 26 per cent. By 1999 when the new constitution was brought into operation the figure was 29.8 per cent. Fast forward to 2019 when the figure hits 44.5 per cent. Women also make up half of ministers and deputy ministers.
Education is the instrument that would advance the position of women in society. And of men, of course. But compared with the education of men, the education of women is more precarious than those of men. Yet, drop-out figures show that more boys drop out than girls. There must be reasons for this. Since pregnancy has been made to affect both male and female, pregnancy is no longer an issue affecting women’s education. Rather, grade repetition is more often the reason for drop-out. Males make 59 per cent of high school dropouts.
Pupils feel too old for their grade and drop out for social reasons. Other reasons for dropping out, which would affect everybody include household poverty and income shocks, like sudden deaths in the family, need for family labour, migration and health problems. Non-fee paying schooling has helped in cases of sudden deaths in the family.
Around the world, the success of the female office holders has encouraged female education in the so-called third world. But in South Africa the deployment of female cadre and their involvement in corruption does not show that female are more likely to be more careful with public property. There are cases in court, which involve female mayors and female CEOs as well as female ministers.
What is the pace of civilization today in the world and how do we measure progress if not with the advancement of women? Today, men and women are fleeing from Afghanistan because of two interactions. In the first place, the Talibans have returned to Kabul, capital city of Afghanistan and there is the possibility that they could form the next government. In spite of the denial by their spokespersons, nobody, not even governments, believe them when they say that they have changed, moved on in life, not as brutish as when last they ruled the country. In the second place, tailors and fashion designers of the Taliban era are doing good business again. With the return of the Talibans, those who intend to live in the country with them have gone into fashion parlors to buy the ‘tents’ (apologies to Nuruddin Farah) in which they would walk the streets of the cities and towns of Afghanistan.
It is simply mind-boggling that people are not thinking of putting up resistance to the Taliban and their army and government to defend what is considered a purely western way of life, this women driving, being television news presenters and architects competing with men. Is this really true what the President of Russia said, that what the United States of America achieved in Afghanistan is merely not suitable to Afghans. After all the president of Afghanistan fled the country just as the army, built by the US army did not give a pound of resistance to the Taliban army. They handed over the arms the US gave them and left. For where? Did they flee the country too?
True it is though that the Taliban said that they are no different from the Taliban of yesterday as far as their faith is concerned. And when they began forming their government a day or two ago, the minister of labour advised the women working to stop working and stay at home.
Seriously though, it is not true that education is the property of the people of Western Europe alone. Education is of universal good to all humankind. Each people have their education but if knowledge of the education of other people could be added to one’s own it would be an advantage. If two heads are better than one, two forms of knowledge are better than one. The only problem is that being more than one thing causes confusion. Like the case of the chameleon.
The chameleon was on a green leaf, he turned green, saw a fly, flick goes his tongue and the fly was in his stomach. He walked on to a brown leaf, turned brown, saw a grasshopper. Flick goes his tongue and the grasshopper was in his stomach. Then he was on a red leaf, he turned red, saw a dragonfly, flick goes his tongue and the dragonfly was in his stomach. Then the chameleon saw a fish and wished he could swim like a fish. Immediately he could swim. Then he saw a heron and wished he could fly. Immediately he began to fly. Then he saw a man and he wished he could walk. Immediately he walked. Then he was hungry. He saw edible things but he did not know how to flick his tongue as it wanted to swallow like a fish, peck like a heron and masticate like a man. He wished for his flick back.
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