International Women’s Day, 8 March, celebrates women from around the world.It is also a day to reflect on the status of women in the world, to measure progress in relation to the commitments made by the whole world and our States towards women.
In our first celebration (we’re only four month’s old) the Women’s Torch wants to celebrate the women of the host country of our head office, Malian women in line with this year’s theme, “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”.We focus on the diversity of Malian women.Those who, in anonymity, perform extraordinary feats to ensure a daily meal to their families educate their children or pay for health care.
When we are told by Malian politicians that Mali is “debout”, we retort, on the feet of the untold story of the Malian woman.
Malian women from Kayes to Kidal , are experiencing the same setbacks as regards the world of work.The realities of their situation show that they are engaged in all sectors of the economy, formal and informal.Women faced with daily challenges of living with a handicap, coupled with raising a family and work; women, not necessarily Malian or teachers who out of concern and empathy of the struggles girls and handicapped children in Mali are faced with have had to set up associations, housing and scholarship projects to ensure that girls can have access to higher education and that handicapped children do not miss out on schooling due to poverty, distance etc.
In the informal sector, women do the same work as men, yet they have the additional burden of feeding a family, caring for a disabled person and doing household chores. We have the testimony of mothers and grandmothers working daily under the burning sun of Bamako in gardens, on the outskirts of the city, along the roads with goods spread out on small tables or in markets, all to make ends meet and feed their families.
Since the debate and reflections centre on a Planet 50-50 by 2030, this major feat cannot be achieved without the implication of men.As such, the special edition will also be doing a special focus on men in leadership who have demonstrated their commitment to and engagement in working towards improving the lives of women, in ensuring security in the north of Mali were hundreds of thousands of women have had to flee as refugees or internally displaced Malians, trying to pick up the pieces of what is left of theirs and their children’s lives.We talk to men who partake in and promote special initiatives geared towards improving the economic capacities of women.
We also look at policies geared towards addressing a major reproductory health issue for women, free caesareans for women visiting state and NGO run maternity units in the case of emergencies.
The accounts of our correspondents from Guinea, Niger, Nigeria and the Gambia show that the situation of women is the same everywhere.
All the issues addressed have a single cross-cutting theme: the economic empowerment of women, without which it would be impossible to achieve the sustainable development goals adopted by world leaders in 2015, let alone gender equality and gender equality and placing gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Poverty cannot be ended by 2030, inequality cannot be reduced by 2030, gender equality cannot be achieved by 2030 if women and girls are excluded and disempowered. To end poverty, reduce inequality, achieve gender equality by 2030, girls and women must be empowered.
The Women’s Torch team hopes to re-ignite a debate which goes well beyond March 8 through our special focus on Mali, themes and issues highlighted which are recurrent across West Africa show that women’s work is unrecognized, that major deficits still exist where women do labour intensive work for at least 12 hours every day and not get a full square meal to show for it; where women, wives of slain military men despite some form of support from military hierarchy still live in poverty.
Through these debates, we hope to influence decisions of our political and administrative leaders, men and women, to push them to ensure that the policies we draw are responsive to the economic realities of women of all tribes, races, religions, ages and socio-economic skills in our region.
2030 is only thirteen years away.The Women’s Torch team is calling on West African leaders to ensure that all policies developed in the future reflect the needs of all women and girls in all spheres. Policies should also be implemented because many gender resolutions have been taken but there is wide gaps exist between their design and practical application
The time to act is NOW.