IWD in Cameroon: Do Ruling Patriarchs Understand What Women Want?
Women’s Day greetings: “Woman eeeeh!”
Once again, it’s 8th Mar - a significant and colourful season for women [and girls] in my community. A day where ruling patriarchs talk about equality, in a sarcastic manner. And then pretend to listen to women’s concern
“Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”. The first time a UN International Women’s Day (IWD) theme is devoted to the rural women [and girls]. A community which make up one quarter of the global population and the key producer of food and other agrarian produce. (UN SG’s 2012 Message on International Women’s Day).
But what does this mean to the people at the grassroots? Has the gender stereotypes changed? Maybe and maybe not. This depends on individual experience.
However, I remembered when I was young, each IWD, I heard elders (men especially) say – this is the day that men stay at home,take care of the children, cook and serve their wife (and family).While she go wild; drink to drunk, make loud noise, spent lavishly and return home late at night.
And if it were possible men would put to birth, breastfeed the child [ren] while the woman drinks palm-wine with friends and celebrate the baby’s ‘born-house’ or ‘baby-birth party’.
Unfortunately, this ancient concept of women’s day is still supported by many people (including the younger generation) till date.
“Today is women’s day. My wife asked me to babysit and do the household chores” said one man to his friends in the crowd. “Every Mar 8th, my wife becomes the husband and I became the wife” – he added
In order word, a man take up the traditional social role of the woman and vice versa.That is women become the head and men the subservient.
My question therefore is: do these role change stop men from perpetuated violence on women? Or have this brought an end to all forms of discriminatory laws and practices that affect women? Of course No!
And as always patriarchy remains the one in control. For the day dedicated to women in recognition of their accomplishments and achievements has been converted into a “women’s birthday” – a day when women are born as men.
The truth is that the concept of women’s day in Cameroon is misrepresented and poorly articulated. We need to correct and orientate the people’s (men old or young) mind to understand why Cameroonian women jubilate on this day. For it isn’t a day women go wild or deliberately drink to drunk.It is a day to we look back on the past struggles and achievements, and most importantly looking ahead on opportunities to project the untapped potential of women and girls in our society.