WOMEN OF THE THIRD WORLD
This first week of March we are celebrating International Women’s Dayaround the world. Thousands of messages, tweets, posts, videos, and chats are flooding the social networks with messages of support for women. Being a woman in the so-called first world is complex, especially because of stereotypes and family reconciliation. In many places, women must follow the beliefs of what has always been said about what a woman can, must, and should do. News such as the first female lieutenant colonel or pilot in the armed forces is highlighted in the media. Having to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to work, take care of the children, be in shape, look beautiful, cook, iron, and do the shopping is very complicated if you do not have a high economic status or a partner who shares 50% of all these household chores. And we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
However, being a woman in the third world is infinitely more complex. On the one hand, in many countries, being a woman means being a zero to the left in politics, education and even healthcare. You are just another ornament in a man’s world. That is why the UN in its 2030 agenda establishes “gender equality” in SDG number 5, with the objective of “achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”. Progress has been made such as getting girls into school, preventing early marriages, and allowing women into positions of responsibility. However, globally, we still have many goals to achieve. These include 100% schooling for girls, preventing genital mutilation or arranged marriages of underage girls, abolishing child rape or the trafficking of girls as sex slaves, and eradicating domestic violence.
On the other hand, women are generally relegated to the home, although at the family level, they are the economic and social support of society. Women are in charge of managing the few resources the family has, raising their children, organizing the household, or even undertaking small microcredits. In initiatives such as the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, housing is only given to women who have land, not to men, and they are the only recipients of microcredits since they are more responsible and make better use of the financial resources obtained.
In the case of Zambia, there are empowered women in urban areas, with high positions in the administration. For example, there are 25 ministers in the National Council of Government, 4 of whom are women. There are also women in senior positions in universities, hospitals, and general administration. However, the situation of women in rural areas is very different. They live subjugated to men, being a very macho society. Even women give themselves to men in exchange for a dowry and it is not uncommon to see men married several times. In fact, it is a crime to marry underage girls nowadays, a common situation a few decades ago. The national authorities are making great efforts to reverse the situation and empower women in rural areas as well. On the road to achieving SDG 5 in Zambia, education is key. Many women in rural areas do not speak English, hence they have limited access to resources. SOGOLO will work to achieve real equality between boys and girls in schools, promoting the training of trainers and facilitating discussions and teaching materials for Zambian girls. In the meantime, we will continue to celebrate the fact that, at least for a day or a week, we will be talking about women.