Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, the day that women can speak and be heard, in theory at least. I am celebrating my day by standing in solidarity with all my fellow women and by imagining a more woman-friendly world through my wish list:
1. I wish for a world where there will be a 100 per cent assurance that a job can be acquired and a promotion or pay hike negotiated without any skirt being taken off. Let society allow women the dignity to compete on merit and by all means quit objectifying our bodies.
2. I wish that more men could love and respect women enough to stop cheating on them; to stop sacrificing their hearts, health, dignity and pride on a few minutes of selfish pleasure. I wish that more women could put their own welfare before their fear to be alone; the fear that makes them accept that a bad man is better than none. A relationship between a man and a woman should not be an exercise in humiliation and a cheating, disrespectful partner makes it exactly that. Fidelity in men is not a dog’s horn; it is not an urban legend; it exists!
3. I wish that more parents will raise their daughters knowing what love is not; what respect is not; what integrity is not…so that when they encounter an abusive man they will know exactly what they are facing. They will not buy into the generations’ old lie that if he loves you he will ‘discipline’ (read beat) you once in a while. They will realise that never in a million years will abuse – emotional, mental and physical – become a form of love. Love never takes away from anyone’s sense of self worth; from anyone’s wellbeing and anything that does is definitely not love.
4. I wish that more women will remember today that motherhood is an honourable undertaking. To give birth to, nurture and raise a child is praiseworthy and whether or not you are receiving the credit and support you deserve, be happy in the knowledge that you are irreplaceable. I believe I represent many adults world over when I quote Renita Weems and say of my mother: “I cannot forget my mother. She [was] my bridge. When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely”.
5. I wish that more women will refuse to accept discrimination as normal. The biggest hurdle to our cause comes when insults on our dignity grow so mechanical through centuries of use that the victims accept it unconsciously. It appears natural; an inevitable way of life. Refuse to be paid less than your input; refuse to be denied any of your rights; refuse to be defined by other people; refuse to be a willing victim of any sexist system.
6. I wish that more women will defeat the curse of low expectations: the damaging but deeply entrenched and widespread belief that it is alright to be disrespected here and there. Beware of participating in your own domination and humiliation; beware of any instrument that undermines your worth even if it comes decorated as culture – case in point, polygamy! Why should having multiple sex partners, which is normally called infidelity, be accepted without question? It may be culture but if it places your health at unnecessary risk and undermines your dignity, then you have a right – a responsibility even – to question it. Every culture was created by people who knew whose interests it was going to serve and I believe women are not who they had in mind when they created polygamy. Learn to expect from others what you give to them; if one man is enough for you, then one woman is definitely enough for him. Whoever teaches you to respect your partner should not neglect to teach you to expect respect in return.
7. I wish more women will remember today that being adequate, strong, smart, beautiful, and independent does not put you at risk of being alone for the rest of your life. It may intimidate some men but that is no reason to tone down your real abilities; do not blame yourself for any man’s insecurity and by all means do not apologise for being phenomenal. There are millions of men out there who will love you exactly the way you are – brains, big job, confidence, beauty, bling and all. Empowered women are the future.
8. I wish that ALL women will attain economic freedom and be able to have a say in their lives and homes without being reminded by Mr. Pathetic that he has worked for everything they are now enjoying. And I wish that ALL men will respect all women no matter how financially dependent they are on them and realise that money does not make any person better than the other; integrity is what makes one better than the other.
I will end my clearly biased wish list by wishing all my fellow women, a happy International Women’s Day and beyond that I wish you a life of dignity, love and respect. I wish you a life that does not stifle your best instincts but instead accommodates and nurtures them; continually providing opportunities for you to be your best. And to all men who are with us on this journey to self love, acceptance and empowerment, may posterity reward you. And to those men who are undermining this journey by doing to women what you wish never to be done to you, allow me to quote one of my favourite people in the world; “I like an honest person. A man who is a man and proud to be a man, not a brute, not a batterer, a man” – Maya. Angelou.
With best regards from your sister, daughter, friend, partner, mother and every woman in the world that wishes issues affecting women could make the global agenda every day!
Author’s note: first published on 08. 03. 10 on Lusaka Times.com