To you all pissed that Women’s Day 2020 should have fallen on a Friday or Monday, sorry. The disappointment, I understand, is deep because NRM Day and Luwum Day all landed on a Sunday. Now again, the stars refuse to align.
But the day has fallen on weekdays before and you have had to chill at home. So don’t curse those government people who decided on the trade-off: we increase the number of public holidays, however if a holiday falls on a weekend, poteya. Lost. You have to go to work on Monday.
Else you move to some African country where I hear when a public holiday falls on a Thursday, people don’t work on Friday. Their chill days get to run from Thursday through Sunday. This is what they call the good life. Except that the said country has been a mess for decades, ruled by an ancient dude who spends most of his time actually chilling. In Europe.
Anyways, let’s get serious.
On a day like this, it helps to listen to, and amplify, what the experts say. So, here is what UN Women says on its website about this day this year:
“The theme for International Women’s Day (March 8) 2020 is, I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights. The theme is aligned with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, the Beijing Platform for Action is recognised as the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere.
“The year 2020 is a pivotal year for advancing gender equality worldwide, as the global community takes stock of progress made for women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. It will also mark several other galvanising moments in the gender equality movement: a five-year milestone towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals; the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security; and the 10th anniversary of UN Women’s establishment.
“The emerging global consensus is that despite some progress, real change has been agonisingly slow for the majority of women and girls in the world. Today, not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality. Multiple obstacles remain unchanged in law and in culture. Women and girls continue to be undervalued; they work more and earn less and have fewer choices; and experience multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces. Furthermore, there is a significant threat of rollback of hard-won feminist gains.”
Women and girls continue to be undervalued; they work more and earn less and have fewer choices; and experience multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces.
If you know any woman in any way, please chew on that.
On Thursday, The New York Times carried an interactive opinion piece online. “If American women earned minimum wage for the unpaid work they do around the house and caring for relatives, they would have made $1.5 trillion last year,” the piece said.
“Globally, women would have earned $10.9 trillion.”
The piece said that unpaid work or labour, according to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, is “time spent doing routine housework, shopping for necessary household goods, child care, tending to the elderly and other household or non-household members, and other unpaid activities related to household maintenance.”
The year 2020 in Uganda started with some hue and cry. Several younger women (mostly below 30) stormed social media to name (and shame) the men who have raped and sexually harassed them. Their apologists were not spared.
It is striking that older women didn’t step forward to name those who have sexually assaulted them. What does that say about the different generations of women and their lived lives in this country? No matter, I hope the authorities have taken interest in what the women have said thus far. Has the police opened some general inquiry file or something like that?
For the rest of you mourning the (wasted) day, the next Women’s Day holiday will come on a Monday. Start to warm up. In the interim, this year’s Labour Day is a Friday, which serves up a long party weekend. Then June 3 is also a weekday. And June 9. No work.
For the moment, let’s reflect on how we make our society better by treating each one of us with dignity regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, race, or culture. We can have a liveable society for us all. How about we act starting today.
Bernard Tabaire is a media trainer and commentator on public affairs based in Kampala.