By Deo Tumusiime
AS women around the world celebrate the International Women’s Day, I wish to congratulate them for a long journey, punctuated with punches and shoving, ridicule and misdemeanors, crimes of all sorts, rain and sunshine, but finally, women have reached.
Yes, the suffering of a woman in this world may have been entrenched in biblical times thousands of years ago, and later incorporated in our traditional cultures, but thanks to women’s movements and the change of times, a glimmer of light has now shone unto our world.
In 1948, the framers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), attempted to protect the rights of a woman by stating in the Preamble that; “All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights…”, but since this instrument is not necessarily legally binding, many simply ignored.
Then in 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the UN General Assembly, but still many women continued to suffer.
Aware that their rights could not be achieved through legislative manoeuvers, women decided to tackle their concerns the way they knew best.
The least that men could offer was the so-called affirmative action. Thank you very much, but says who that a woman was created to be at a man’s mercy, feeding on crumbs? Women are not weak as many were made to believe; women are not shy, women are not stupid, women are not cheap; but women are simply different, and in so being, they form the buttress of the foundation not only of humanity, but all the goings-on in our world.
I grew up watching my own mother (RIP) beaten and tortured by my dad just because she couldn’t have her voice heard. The tyrant of a man even kept a stick in his house specifically for beating my mum at the slightest provocation; yet he lived his life the way he wished.
He sold the land given to her by her father and never gave her a single penny of what was her own. She begged for sh50 to buy medicine for headache and he said, “I have no money”, yet mother never had a job to earn her own. In the year 2000, I took father on and said, “Never will you do this again to my mum”.
For this reason, we technically and now eternally split up, but I never missed him. As a tribute to my mum, I promised my wife [and all the women in my life], never to do unto her any of the things dad did to my mum.
Yes, the many cases of violence against women that we read in the media everyday are committed by ones like us-not so much because they are more intelligent or more important but because of ignorance.
Ignorance of the fact that save for the difference in our genetic makeup, women are equally children of God, deserving of utmost providence, love and respect, just as men have enjoyed over the years.
When a woman out there is tortured or denied her space, it is someone’s father, uncle, brother, cousin, grandfather out there doing it, but it could also be you!
A few days ago, I attended a meeting in Kampala convened by a women’s organisation, and somehow I was the only man in the audience.
We deliberated peacefully, respectfully, and professionally the entire time. These women could have chosen to marginalise, stigmatise and make me pay for the sins of all our male forefathers!
Each woman appeared to be carrying some load of pain inflicted by a man out there, somewhere: Women are scarred, and it pains. Yet despite all they are subjected to, women have remained so sweet and kind, raising each one of us to the level where we are today.
Women bore birthing pains to usher us into this world, carried us on their backs, sometimes went without food so we could eat and be alive, and when we grow big enough, we pick the whip and beat them up!
Oh men, come on- I think every man on planet earth owes every woman an apology- and not just apology, but they must return whatever they unfairly grabbed from women and compensate any damages in triple figures.
I choose to say that women have reached, because from this day on, no woman should ever suffer at the hands of a man simply because she’s a woman.
Those who suffer within marriage must never be fooled again under the traditional pretext that family matters must never be exposed-all wrong, within or outside the family is wrong and must be exposed and punished accordingly. No one chooses to be born a woman, and for that matter, no woman should ever be subjected to archaic traditional beliefs and tendencies of a male-dominated society.
This message must be passed on to all girl children from the day they are born-that a woman is no single inch less important than a man-NEVER.
I congratulate all women out there upon the International Women’s Day. The existence of this day may have been signed and stamped by a male politician out there for political reasons; and I hear some simplifying it that on this very day, March the 8, it is a man’s turn to cook!
No, just as we celebrate life every day, the exquisite contribution of a woman in our world must be celebrated EVERYDAY. Kudos to those few men that saw the light long time and interface with the women in their lives on equal footing-that is the way to go.
To all Women out there: On behalf of all men out there, on my bended knees; I am sincerely SORRY for all the heinous acts committed by men out there against you, both yesterday and today. Never again shall a woman be ill-treated just because of being a woman.
Writer is an international communications consultant