Nobel laureate: Women and children still not in peace in Africa
- Published on Friday, 11 May 2012 13:19
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By Azwihangwisi Mufamadi
The legal and political systems in the African continent have failed to guarantee the rights of women and children in the continent. This was said by Nobel laureate, women rights activists and Rhodes University honorary doctorate recipient, Leymah Gbowee.
Gbowee said that there is a tendency to think that since a country is not at war the rights of women and children are automatically guaranteed which is not always the case. Women continue to suffer even in a stable country like South Africa. “The statistics of rape and some of the things that women face in this country (South Africa) make you as a women’s right activist not just to lose sleep at night but to be very angry. People see the bodies of women as a battleground or a place for satisfaction or to vent their anger.”
In situations where harsh laws against those who perpetrate violence against women are proposed, those that hold positions of power thwart these efforts. “Liberia has one of the strongest rape laws in the continent. The sentence for rape is twelve years to life but once you are accused you have to go to prison until you are proven innocent. (But) lawyers and judges are the ones that came back and said this law is barbaric.”
Those in power continue to protect their professions whilst “women and children are the ones that feel pain the most”.
She added that the media plays a pivotal role in the way women are seen in this continent and by the rest of the world. “The way our media portrays us is what international media picks on. Everyday our media portrays us as weaklings, victims and people who suffer the worst.”
Gbowee said that the media has not done enough reporting on the women’s rights violations in Zimbabwe. “We have women’s right activists that get arrested at the will of the government. They are treated in whatever way that they are treated and you don’t hear a lot about some of these things.”
Women continue to fight irrespective of the atrocities and violence against them. “Even after they go through the process of rape, they pick themselves up, put on their clothes and move,” said Gbowee. “They are living, they are surviving, they are the strength of the continent.”
Even in terms of recognition, women do not receive enough recognition for their work. Men continue to lead the pack in terms of accolades while women’s contribution receive little acknowledgement. “Institutions are not looking hard for those kinds of women that should get recognition. People still see women’s role in community as basic,” said Gbowee. She said that women are ignored even at local level.
Gbowee also touched on xenophobia, which is a big issue in South Africa. She said that people who are from other continents get better treatment in the African countries than those who come from Africa. “If we have 10 000 Westerners moving into our continent, no one will have a problem with them. There will be no feeling of xenophobia and there will be no feeling that they are coming to take our jobs. If 10 000 black people come to this place, there would be protest that they are coming to take our jobs,” she said. She also blamed the law in failing to guarantee the safety of visitors.
Gbowee also singled out mentorship as an important initiative for shaping the lives of children in the continent. “On our continent we spend very little time looking at the needs of our boys and girls. Those of us who are seen global leaders get invitation faster to speaker in European and American countries faster than to talk to boys and girls in our places and local communities,” said Gbowee.
There is still a long way for Africa but the media has a role to play. She said that there must be a rule that the media must report more about the good things that African’s are doing.
- Published on Monday, 07 May 2012 06:56
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By Mvuzo Ponono
You’ve seen the movie. The bride, for whatever reason, decides to ditch the groom at the last minute. The poor guy is left at the altar, with a sad face and sour party. Next scene the bride is running down the highway with half her dress in her hands, looking like a bewildered animal caught in lights.
That happened to me, well it sort of. To cut a long story short, I misread the graduation booklet and I went to the ceremony on the wrong day. Instead of the Friday with the Humanities faculty, I went on Saturday. It wouldn’t have been too bad if I’d been on my own but grad is a family event. I was there with the extended lot; grannies, aunt – everyone. As we always do, we got there just in time. So when I checked my name on the list my family was already inside and the doors were closed. Naturally, I didn’t appear but it was too late to relay the message to the troops. They were left to sit through a three hour ceremony where I didn’t appear.
I couldn’t take the sympathetic glances from the ushers so I left the monument. I sat on one of the concrete steps outside. I was in a three piece suite and I had my gown and hood on one hand. After half an hour of sitting there thinking about nothing, I decided to head to town, get a beer and maybe watch some rugby. I also needed to at least alert my parents to the situation. All my stuff, phone and all were left in the car.
I don’t think anyone has ever walked up to the monument via the main road; it’s a long, windy route. But of course, the picture of a graduate, in full gear, is too stark to ignore. The first guy to come across me stopped and offered a lift. All I had for the poor fellow was my story. He left me in town, at the corner by Debonairs. The Saturday sun was out and town was lazy and indifferent to my plight. Thankfully, I have a friend who lives in the area so I just decided to pay her a visit. The two gates that stand between her door were locked so I had to jump. Imagine that. Funny thing is that the land lady caught me and threatened to call High Tec. I offered her my story and all was well.
Luckily my friend was home and I go to make that call. My aunt actually answered her phone during the ceremony. I don’t know how she managed that. It was a confused interaction, but she got the gist. The ride back home was slightly sour but at least the bride hadn’t totally runaway. It was something close. We quickly got over the story because we had a community to celebrate with. We had to rush from Grahamstown to King Williams Town because a whole location was waiting for a ‘grad party’. The ceremony ended not being the end all because the actual grad was in the hearts of all of those back home.
More or less civic representation on the press council?
- Published on Friday, 04 May 2012 11:22
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Max du Preez raises some issues about the composition of the proposed press council.
Journalists – to campaign or not to campaign: Abramjee v Dawes
- Published on Thursday, 03 May 2012 11:55
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Gill Moodie from Bizcommunity writes about the difference in opinion between Yusuf Abramjee of LeadSA (among other hats) and Nic Dawes of the Mail&Guardian on the role of journalists in campaigning on civic matters: