Solidarity for Womens Rights

Saturday, the 21st January was a historic day for women: this was the day American women chose to march across the United States to show their anger and frustration over their new President Donald Trump. This was the day after his inauguration.  

Donald Trump throughout his campaign period demonstrated that women existed for the pleasure of men and that he had no respect for women.  He indicated his disregard of women  through his statements about his opponent Hillary Clinton, inappropriate comments about his daughter, Ivanka, countless accusations about sexual misconduct, his lewd remarks about grabbing women by their private parts - because he can - and these incidents are just a tip of the iceberg.

The march was originally organized by Americans for Americans women and any activist that supported women’s rights. Since the the issues were so close to womens’ hearts, regardless of nationality, the march took a life of its own. Not only  did these take place in many parts of the US, but there were marches all over the world, including in the  small nation of Malawi.  

The march brought out millions of people, some, who before Donald Trump’s campaign, did not consider themselves activists but they felt so affronted by his attitude towards women that they had to. 

The purpose of the marches were not only to show Donald Trump that women in the United States matter, and that they have a voice, the marches were not only about solidarity with American women but to take a stand across the world in support of women’s rights.  This is not the first time such an initiative was taken: remember the One Billion Rising campaign? 

This is a campaign founded by Eve Ensler, an American activist best known for the Vagina Monologues, to end rape and sexual violence against women. The campaign started in 2012 with a call to dance on the 14th February in solidarity with victims of sexual violence. I am proud to say that I stood up and was counted on that day; yes, right here in Harare Zimbabwe!  I added my voice to the call to end violence against women by dancing my heart out! One Billion Rising has been growing from strength to strength and this year the theme is to increase the focus and visibility on the exploitation of women with the aim of ending violence. 

They are naysayers who have been saying on social media, nothing much ever comes out of these marches and protests; President Trump will govern as he pleases; and women will continue to suffer and have their rights ignored.  Some will even quote biblical verses to justify the subjugation of women, whilst others will blame the women for whatever circumstances they find themselves in. For me, these events show that women, and those men who are against patriarchy, will not be quiet anymore, they are prepared to speak out, and speak out loudly. Donald Trump and other naysayers may pretend that the march was of no consequence to them, but the impact of it will be felt for years to come. Women’s rights are human rights!

The importance of these events shows that women’s rights are not a national, ethnic, religious, tribal or class issue, but affect us all as the human race. It gives victims a sense that they are not alone, that somewhere there are people who are concerned and concerned enough to take to the streets and protest against the trampling of women’s rights wherever they are.  

The breadth of the concerns expressed by the women in Washington, from Gloria Steinem to Angela Davis, made it clear that women’s concerns are now a challenge to the state itself. The views of women are now views about governance itself, and every aspect of the governance by the state. Donald Trump and all patriarchs beware!

I was not able to attend the march on the 21st January because there wasn’t one in Zimbabwe but rest assured on the 14 February, I will be out there in some capacity, saying no to violence against women. 

Kuda Chitsike 26 January 2017

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