Every year, on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day is celebrated by women worldwide. The United Nations began celebrating women’s day in the 1975 and in 1977, the UNs General Assembly invited members states to proclaim 8 of March as the UN’s day for women’s rights. This day was born as a result of feminists fights from European and American continent. It symbolically marks a day for advocacy for women’s rights and the fight against all sorts of discrimination against women and girls. It calls for reflexion and advocacy on the issues of gender equality. The African continent has not been left out as there is usually a plethora of activities carried out in various and different African countries leading to the 8th of March. Amongst such activities, we have educative talks on subjects like GBV, entrepreneuship, sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In Cameroon for example, the Ministry of women’s empowerment and the family organizes activities for one week before the 8th of march. However, after 35 editions of women’s day celebration, what are the outcomes?. Recent statistics still show that, women’s rights are abused every second and particularly in Africa where roots of patriachy and immoral traditions and cultures are still very much embedded. The government, local and international NGOs and many Civil Society Organizations have been working day in day out to reduce discriminatory acts against women but much still has to be done as there are still high rates of feminicides, rapes, FECMs and FGMs in the world and mostly in Africa. There is therefore a great need for advocacy, particularly to hold accountable the government of countries who ratify and sign international conventions like the CEDAW and the Maputo protocol but do not concretely apply them.
In the light of these events, one thing is sure, we have gone a long way already but we still need a change of mentality towards women and women’s rights; firmer and more innovative ideas to achieve objectives of having a global village, where everyone and women in particular are given equal opportunities to explore their full potentials free of coercion.
Written and compiled by Vanessa Donkeng-GYN Volunteer.