Hey everyone! Welcome to this week’s post and to the second entry in the Women’s Month Series. Today is 8th March and the world is celebrating International Women’s Day. Happy Women’s Day to all you lovely women!
According to the International Women’s Day website, the theme this year is “Choose to Challenge”.
A challenged world is an alert world.IWD 2021
When I first read the theme, a number of things came to mind. Challenging social norms, challenging others and most importantly challenging myself too. What I say, what I do, my thoughts on certain issues, all those things need to be challenged for me to be better. Even my opinions need to be challenged. Of course not by getting into heated debates with others but by choosing to listen and learn from what others have to say or by reading other people’s opinions and then maybe I’ll realise I had a totally wrong concept of something.
The theme is more than just a one day thing. It’s something that should be applied in our everyday lives. The same way celebrating women isn’t just a one day thing.
In today’s world, so many standards regarding women are being challenged. People are fighting for women’s rights, safety, education etc. It’s only right and fair that you join these for yourself, and for those around you. Today, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you a few things that you and I can choose to challenge. Obviously, the number of things that need to be changed go beyond what I will share here so be sure to read more and educate yourselves too.
This is a huge one in that it covers so much. Challenge your beliefs, your opinions and the way you think. Granted, sometimes we think certain things or believe certain things because of what we have seen around us or what we were taught by people who brought us up. However, it’s our responsibility to assess our way of thinking and change that if need be.
When I was in my very first semester of uni, I joined the Civil Engineering Club. It was mandatory that I did. The first meeting I attended in the club was the AGM where they talked about how the last year had gone and they also voted for new club leaders. President, Vice-president, Treasurer and Secretary. I’m sure you already know where this is going.
The first position to be voted for was the Presidency. People nominated themselves and others were nominated by their friends then we would vote based on the list of nominees. Same went for the Vice-president seat. When it was time to nominate candidates for the treasurer seat, the person who was conducting the elections said, “Ladies you can now run too.” You can’t even begin to imagine my shock. When he said that is when I realised that actually, only men were nominated for the President and Vice-president positions. Initially I didn’t think much of it because I just assumed it so happened that only men wanted those seats. Him saying what he said just showed me that actually, those seats were more or less reserved for the men.
Now, I’ll give the guy a benefit of the doubt and say maybe he did what he did as a result of what he had seen around him or his thinking was just programmed in a way that made him think women can only be secretaries and if they are lucky enough then treasurers too. In that meeting, I told myself that before I leave this university, I will be the president or the vice president of the club. And I did just that. I’m pretty sure no one knew/knows that I had targeted that position because I wanted to and because I wanted to show the people in my program that positions like that are not for men only.
What I’m trying to say is, what you think about women affects how you treat women. What I think about women affects how I treat women. Challenge your thinking. Things like “Women belong in the kitchen”, “Women can’t have high level positions” etc have to die. Get rid of thoughts like that. Challenge your thoughts and your beliefs about women. Believe it or not there are guys in my program who for a long time couldn’t believe that women were capable of grasping certain concepts before them. Most of my first year I had to deal with people struggling to believe that I was the one getting really good grades or I was the one who could actually help with certain things and it sucked. Not that it mattered so much to me but I definitely felt insulted for some time.
It’s up to us to unlearn certain things. Ask yourself questions, educate yourself and challenge/question your bias. It’s up to us to challenge our thoughts.
Period poverty generally means not having enough money to afford menstrual products such as pads, tampons, menstrual cups or panty liners.
One of my friends, a blogger at The Zambian Plain Jane, recently wrote about how much periods cost. According to her math, a woman in Zambia will spend approximately K79,200 in her lifetime, just on her period. In a month about K165.
The truth is, there are so many girls and women who cannot afford to spend that much money. To quote from the The Zambian Plain Jane, “the amount of money women spend on periods is astonishingly too much to be considered normal and acceptable.” That is the truth.
If you are in a position to jump in and help end period poverty by buying pads or any other menstrual products for those who are unable to buy them for themselves, please do. Also, a lot of people have been talking about menstrual cups and while I haven’t tried them, I have read and heard that they work really well and the fact that they are reusable can really help to reduce the amount of money someone spends during each cycle.
This is no stranger to us. Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender. Gender inequality shows itself in many different forms. Two examples of this are uneven access to education and job segregation.
Did you know that in 2021, some people, families and cultures still prioritize educating men more and neglect educating women? Do you know what sucks the most about this? It probably works out better for them because in 2021, some workplaces still prioritize hiring men and leaving out women. Or, if they both get educated, then they have to fight the gender pay gap. It’s exhausting.
Women should be given the same opportunities as men. Don’t deny a girl or woman the chance to get educated. If you know you are in a family that prioritizes men over women, challenge yourselves and find ways to make things equal. Issues of gender inequality lead to other things like child marriages. In some cultures, boys get to go to school and the girl is taught to look after her home and then married off at a really young age. It’s a chain reaction.
Practice gender equality in your homes too. Don’t push silly agendas like only girls cook and only girls clean the house. Let the boys do it too. Start promoting equality in your homes. Challenge gender inequality.
There are many other things that you should consider challenging today and every other day. Sexual Violence, Genital Mutilation and many others. “Let’s ‘choose to challenge’ for those women who can’t.”
What’s something you believe we should choose to challenge? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!
Happy Women’s Day!
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back next week.