Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy International Women's day!

I woke up to mentions of Happy Women's Day all over the internet and thought to myself, "What a coincidence?" The first ever woman nominee for Best Director at the Oscars had just won it last night for 'Hurt Locker', a movie which is a masculine as they come. What men can do, women can do better. It really is a woman's world, :-) Happy Women's Day!

International Women's Day (IWD) is not about firsts for women, it's about a celebration of women. From its Wiki page, the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements. It's a day for YOU (not just men) to let that those women know how much you adore them and cherish them for all they do for YOU.

The Wiki page also states that this 'day' was started as a Socialist event. I learnt this from a friend of mine when we had texted back and forth about the issue. I called my mother (in Ghana) to wish her 'Happy Women's Day' and thank her for all she'd done for me and she knew nothing of this International Women's Day. Hmm. My friend had figured Ghana probably wasn't celebrating the 'Day'. She mentioned it was originally a Socialist thing and that in her home country (which shares a border with Ghana by the way), it's an official holiday. But how did '233' miss out? We may not be a 'socialist' country but we do have the more socialist party in power now in the form of the NDC. Needless to say, I decided not to call my sisters in Ghana about IWD, and sent them texts instead.

Today was a holiday in Ghana though. Since Ghanaians couldn't get off work on March 6th (a Saturday), Asumasi and Rakia got to sleep in. You could say Ghana's 53rd birthday overshadowed IWD even if some of the news media reported it. IWD came at a time unlike Valentine's Day, it had to compete with Mama Ghana's "Ahofadi" celebration. Valentine's Day was competing with National Chocolate Day, big difference there. Apparently, Ghanaians are more excited celebrating 'love' and 'Valentine' than celebrating 'women'. No, they are not the same thing.

IWD is used to call attention to some women's rights issues and some of the major social, political and economic crises affecting women and girls. Ghana has never been known to be an activist country. Though we enjoy our democrazy democracy, we are too much in love with peace to take stringent measures to get different things done. Take hiplife for instance. It's probably the least socially conscious form of African hip-hop. So maybe, we shouldn't be surprised Ghana's not celebrating International Women's Day. How did Flavour's Ashawo become a major hit in Ghana? When was the last time you heard a song about Trokosi?

Naturally, I was thinking of ways to celebrate the day. The popular choice is to buy gifts and presents for different women. I thought that was for Valentine's Day? I know I haven't seen any major media blitz for March 8th but I doubt International Women's Day is another day for 'plenty spending'. I am on a "chiselling,don't spend if you can get it free" spree so this was out of the question. The gifts will go, but later. Another friend suggested offering smiles for all women I saw. Now that's a good one. I don't have any interesting stories to report as a result of doing so so maybe simply saying "Happy Women's Day" to random women would be a more dramatic way of celebrating IWD.

On the real though, we should really begin to take celebrating women more seriously. A wise man called James Kwegyir Aggrey once said, "If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation". People who've studied some sort of developmental economics would tell you that to enrich a nation, the women must be empowered. We must begin to empower more women with education and resources because unlike men, they care much about "us" collectively, our communities and our societies. Men are messes, if you've been to a college guy's room and a college girl's room, it will tell you all you need to know. I say, we begin to allow women to run the 'show' more and see how the world will begin to turn.

In fact, when you think about some of the reasons behind IWD, it's a little tough to go around saying Happy Women's Day. We must start doing our little contributions to stop the injustices that women and girls face all around the world and encourage the celebration of more achievements. But when you think about women do well, and how they make our families tick, our communities build, our societies flourish and our world prosper, we must join in a single voice and chorus, "Happy Women's Day".

"Happy Women's Day".
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