mercy-makuwatsine.jpgBy Mercy Makuwatsine

 

A woman can be described as one special person on earth. For the world to have so many people, it is the woman who goes through a lot to come up with a child. She goes through the pregnancy which at times is characterised by vomiting, loss of appetite, complications, she suffers during child birth, has sleepless nights with the baby crying or not feeling well. It is the mother who spends much time with the child, grooming the child to be a well behaved boy or girl. Such is the life of the mother, a woman the world is celebrating today – March 8.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, it is critical to go down memory lane and explore the life of a woman in Zimbabwe in order to celebrate her achievements.

International Women’s Day events are held worldwide on March 8. Various women, including political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors and entrepreneurs, are usually invited to speak at various events on the day. Such events may include seminars, conferences, dinners or breakfast meetings. The messages given at these events often focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.

 

This year’s theme is “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.”

Many students in schools and other educational settings participate in special lessons, debates or presentations about the importance of women in society, their influence, and issues that affect them.

In some countries school children bring gifts to their female teachers and women receive small presents from friends or family members. Many workplaces make a special mention about International Women’s Day through internal newsletters or notices, or by handing out promotional material focusing on the day.

women business.jpgThe day is essential for the girl child, the woman and celebrating their achievements. But my question really is: are females enjoying equal opportunities with their male counterparts?

Women should be celebrating their achievements in executive positions: education, business and even in the political field. But taking a closer look at the managerial positions for most organisations in Zimbabwe, especially parastatals one can say surely say there is nothing to celebrate.

The General Manager of the National Railways of Zimbabwe is one called Retired Air Commodore Mike Karadzai, a male, whilst the troubled Air Zimbabwe’s General Manager is Innocent Mavhunga, another male. Can’t women do better for these parastatals? For all the media houses there are no women in the highest positions of the Chief Executive Officers, from the broadcasting station ZBC, Zimpapers, Newsday and Daily News, most CEOs are males. So why and what should women celebrate?

Does this mean women are incapable? Even if there are women in some managerial positions, why are they not there as chief executive officers? It’s only the Rainbow Tourism Group’s Chipo Mutasa, Grace Muradzikwa of Nicoz Diamonds among the few who have managed to get such positions. Does one have to be a male to be a chief executive officer?

Women have also been fighting to get seats in the cabinet. But how many women are there in the cabinet now? Paurina Mpariwa- Labour and Social Services; Olivia Muchena- Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development; Sithembiso Nyoni- Small to Medium Enterprises; Theresa Makone– Home Affairs; Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga- Regional and International Integration; Lucia Matibenga– Public Service and Flora Bhuka- Minister of State in Vice President John Nkomo’s Office. These are the only women Ministers in Zimbabwe. But compared to the number of male ministers, can this scenario do justice to the SADC Protocol on women.

 

Part 3 Article 12 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development says: ‘1. Parties shall endeavour that, by 2015, at least 50% of decision-making positions in the public and private sectors are held by women including the use of affirmative action measures as provided for in Article 5.  2. Parties shall ensure that all legislative and other measures are accompanied by public awareness campaigns which demonstrate the vital link between the equal representation and participation of women and men in decision making positions, democracy, good governance and citizen participation.’

Does today’s setup fall anywhere near the 50-50 requirement?

This shows the inequality that still exists in society. Thanks to Rita Makarau who is now serving in the Judiciary Service Commission, one of the most powerful posts in the judicial system of Zimbabwe.

divinendhlukula.jpgWomen in Zimbabwe have the same talent as their male counterparts. I feel that if given the chance, women can do better than men in many areas. Take a closer look at what Zimbabwe’s SECURICO Company Founder and Managing Director, Divine Ndhlukula, has achieved. She won a US$100,000 grand prize in the 2011 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, out of 3 300 companies from 48 African countries. She even said: “It is such an honor for me to be recognised by the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship and included in such a talented, dynamic group of entrepreneurs,” just after receiving her award. This is a woman and a woman full of talent.

 

Give the women a chance and they will prove that they are stars. Our very own Vice President, Cde Joice Mujuru is another shining example and beacon of hope for many Zimbabwean women because one cannot talk about women and not mention such a great woman who has become the first woman Vice President of Zimbabwe.

I think women can be good leaders because naturally, they are able to groom the best leaders of the world. A home without a mother has hunger. A house without a woman is like a garden without flowers. A woman can run around and look for food to feed children even if the husband is not around or is irresponsible.

This is the reason why single mothers can survive and feed their children. The simple reason is mothers are responsible. One cannot run away from that fact. The male counterparts can be irresponsible and forget that they have children at home but mothers will not.

 

That is why today men are the most corrupt officials in government and the public service. Women generally have some sense of dignity and self-restraint.

So, as the nation celebrates International Women’s Day, I urge Zimbabweans to give the woman a chance.