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The International Women's Day 2009

Since 1911, the international community has been joining hands to celebrate the achievements of women in the economic, political and social arena.

The International Women’s Day, which is on the 8th of March, is marked by a variety of activities such as information fairs, conferences, round table discussions and exhibitions. All these activities are aimed at communicating specific messages aimed at changing people's views, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and perceptions towards women's rights.

This year’s UN global theme for the International Women’s Day is “Women and men united to end violence against women and girls”. The theme seeks to integrate men into the struggle to uphold women’s rights.

In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe organisations working directly with women will host the ONANDI Women’s Festival on March 07, 2009 at the Small City Hall from 0930 hours to 1300 hours. The organisations involved include the Sexual Rights Centre, a local NGO that seeks to build a sexual rights culture in Zimbabwe through challenging behaviour and attitudes in society, capacity building and empowering vulnerable and marginalised communities to advocate for their legal, social and cultural rights.

During this year’s Festival, women and men will unite to end violence against women through theatre performances, song, dance, music and poetry. These traditional forms of communication will be used because people at grassroots level easily understand the messages which are simplified verbally and non-verbally. In addition, these forms of communication are participatory in nature. By involving people in the sending and recieving of messages the people find solutions to solving their everyday problems. They express their concerns and emotions and they rehearse real live problems in a fun and creative way. Theatre performances, song, dance, music and poetry are highly effective and move people to take action whilst entertaining and educating them (The Power of Communication).

The ONANDI Women’s Festival, is a local initiative hosted annually to mark the International Women’ Day. This is the only women’s festival in Zimbabwe. It is an opportunity to celebrate womanhood and other women achievements in Zimbabwe. The ONANDI Women’s Festival is aimed at giving men and women in Bulawayo a chance to take stock, reflect, think ahead and move forward in ending violence against women and promoting women’s health. The Onandi Women’s Festival is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change in upholding women’s rights.

During the Festival there will be a march to the City Hall starting at the TM Hyper on Herbert Chitepo at 0900 hours. In addition, we will honour women of Bulawayo who have worked hard to advance the cause of women.

I look forward to being the voice of women in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe through exploring communication approaches and tools.

Gertrude Pswarayi

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