Time for rhetorical lullabies over

The Chronicle

Stephen Mpofu, Perspective

“S.O.S. Please, come to the rescue. Our rights are under siege by unrepentant chauvinists.”

The above is a dramatised version of outcries by women in Binga who last week echoed similar laments that have repeatedly rant the air across Zimbabwe but with next to nothing being done to end what is obviously a social crisis in a society that touts itself about upholding civilised standards and equal rights for all.

The women expressed their grievances against male chauvinists and perpetrators of gender based violence during a stakeholders meeting on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, organised by Basilizwi Trust and the Ministry of Women Affairs in Chinonge ward on Thursday.

They presented a paper calling for an end to GBV so that women and girls can actively play a significant role alongside men in the affairs of the community with social and economic development being paramount.

It is, indeed, a tragic irony that women who fought side by side with men in the bush with some of them also sacrificing their precious lives along the journey to independence and freedom that swell the hearts of Zimbabweans today and are the majority, population wise, should be discriminated against by the minority in the same way as those without knees and a clear minority oppressed the majority, our black people, in colonial Rhodesia.

Moreover, is it not the women, now Cinderella-ed who fed and even gave emotional support to the men wielding the AK-47s along the triumphant journey from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe?

That today these poor souls should be made to play second fiddle to men in a country they helped to liberate is to all intents and purposes unpardonable and so the time is long overdue for this nation to revere the bromide and in that way pave the way for full participation by Zimbabwean women in the affairs of their motherland.

This pen believes strongly that the time for rhetorical lullabies or pacification of women is over and that Zimbabwean society must do, and be seen to do, something to make women feel they are not merely an appendage to this society but also play an active part in political, social and economic spheres.

The emancipation of women from their suppression may take place at two levels of our society, namely in the home and on the political front.

Women in our country, particularly in rural areas where the majority of Zimbabweans live, have kept households intact on their shoulders while men are at work in urban centres within the country or away in the diaspora.

It is therefore of critical importance that the powers that be see to it that practical action, not rhetorical white-washing of the role of women takes place to give the fair sex a more active role in affairs of our nation.

Political socialisation should therefore be the way forward in every political cell with any violence, including sexual brutality against women and girls being made anathema and visited with harsh, legal sanctions too difficult to contemplate.

Furthermore, with the demonic climate change and the recurrent droughts now almost common phenomena causing food shortages and famine among other disastrous effects, it becomes critically important, particularly during devolution which the Government is rolling out, for villagers to be empowered with knowledge of the climate – smart agricultural practices such as growing short season crop varieties that ripen quickly even when the rainfall is sparse.

Agricultural specialists should not merely preach better farming methods to people out there through radio or television from the comfort of their urban homes but should go out there to be with the people and demonstrate to them climate-friendly agricultural techniques of food production.

More big and small dams may also have to be constructed throughout the country for irrigation purposes under Command Agriculture to offset the effects of drought as a result of climate change which shows no sign of abating what with big industrialised countries such as the United States of America withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on ways to fight global warming which causes droughts that many countries including Zimbabwe are experiencing as well as floods including cyclones such as Idai which visited the eastern parts of Zimbabwe, leaving behind trails of destruction.

By pulling out of the Paris Agreement, the US where factory chimneys remain unmodified and spewing more toxic gases into the atmosphere in addition to other dangerous gases from coal will obviously worsen global warming by thinning the ozone layer which shields the sun’s rays from virtually incinerating earth and causing the globe to warm up dangerously.

[Of course, other countries contribute to the ozone layer demise and need to take measures such as controlling veld fires and controlling gases from refrigerators as well as from other sources and which cumulatively also damage the ozone layer with disastrous consequences for humanity.]

Finally, socialisation in the home should be promoted as it is in that setup where the right values are supposed to be inculcated among the boy child to grow up respecting rather than looking down upon the girl child and women in general so that gender-based violence inclinations are pre-empted at a young age.

But if Zimbabweans and for that matter other people elsewhere in the world continue to render lip service against gender-based violence, the loud quest for the equalisation of rights between men and women in the home and on the job front will remain an ever-receding mirage as will a stable, brave new future for societies that look down upon the female species but only applaud them as equals in the conjugal bedroom.

That today these poor souls should be made to play second fiddle to men in a country they helped to liberate is to all intents and purposes unpardonable and so the time is long overdue for this nation to revere the bromide and in that way pave the way for full participation by Zimbabwean women in the affairs of their motherland.