The urgent need for w omen emancipation in society was highlighted during International Women’s Day on March 8th. Various influential women from around the world including Executive Director of United Nations Women and former first female South African Deputy President-Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, spoke candidly about the continued utilisation of harassment by men, as a tool to discourage women from pursuing high positions.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said during a television interview with SABC News channel that a 2016 Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) study found that 4 in 5 women parliamentarians experienced psychological violence, 1 in 4 physical abuse and 1 in 5 endured sexual abuse linked to their jobs. This is an alarming reality that affects women- even those who rule over male colleagues.
“There’s a challenge when it comes to encouraging women to be part of leadership in all countries. Progress was made in countries that have implemented special measures such as quotas and targets. All the 22 women in the world that are heads of state have been harassed,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
She also mentioned a phenomenon which she referred to as the “bystander syndrome”, which appears to perpetuate the silent response concerning issues of women abuse and femicide.
“All of us in our families and communities cannot be bystanders. We know the perpetrators and the person who is being violated. We should take a stand and intervene. We should not look at it as a private matter. We’ve seen that women are discouraged by the treatment they receive when they go to report at the police stations. There’s no time to relax, we must all be part of the fight,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The Covid-19 pandemic also took centre stage in the International Women’s Day discussions from various media platforms. It was revealed that women have suffered more severe job losses than their male counterparts since Covid19 took over the world. It was also revealed that it will take more than a century to realise gender parity. This is a highly disheartening reality for the young girls who will grow up with a pre-determined low standard of living, irrespective of their intelligence and efforts.
It is therefore vital to realise that dialogue is still a delaying tactic to undermine the role of women in society. It is time to act beyond the prevalent and flawed assumptions by the patriarchal system that women are the weaker gender. Women must storm all industries and assume their positions. They study under the same education system and pay the same amount of taxes, yet they don’t receive the same opportunities and salaries as men. This is ridiculous.
It’s time for action, Happy International Women’s Day!