A Day for Women?
By Naomi Wilson
To imagine your country being on the brink of war, your town to be in demolished chaos and your community to be in total uproar is almost unthinkable.
But to see seven of your neighbours and friends brutally murdered by government officials is something else altogether.
Appallingly, this is what happened in the Ivory Coast this month. As the country rises in protest to President Gbagbo’s refusal to leave to power, violence has become widespread throughout the nation as rebels battle with the government’s military.
But when women decided to hold a peaceful protest in their community in Abidjan on 3 March- open fire, random shots and bloodshed were certainly not anticipated. The result; seven innocent women killed for their search of a voice.
The demonstrators were members of a women’s group who are in support of Ouattara, the politician recognised as the winner of the last election. They lined the streets of Abidjan to sing and chant to encourage Gbagbo to leave, believing that the power of a women’s march would be what the leader needed to take notice.
Instead, the demonstration descended to carnage as military jeeps rampaged onto the scene and began firing. As hundreds were injured and blood ran down the streets, seven women lay dying- one with her baby still tied to her back.
It easily shows the corruption of the Ivory Coast - but what makes this worse is that this violence was brought out on innocent women who were doing nothing but trying to speak up for their country.
Ironically, this comes within the very week of the 100th International Women’s Day - a day dedicated to listening to the voice of women and examining their rights across all nations.
The date saw many female demonstrations unfold across the world, as women spoke out against the discrimination they still face. In Egypt, hundreds of women held a protest against the sexual harassment that revolves in the country; though disgustingly, were rebuked, beaten and sexually abused by the 200 men who invaded the march.
Furthermore, with the sex trafficking of young girls in Thailand, the forced labour of women in the rural Congo and 1 in 4 women being victims of sexual abuse or remarks here in the UK, it is obvious that worldwide women’s rights are far from being achieved.
I do not think of myself as a die-hard feminist. I haven’t taken part in any bra-burning expeditions of female power. But it is things like this that cannot help but disgust me.
I just don’t understand how now, in the 21st Century, governments can condone women being treated in such inhumane and demeaning ways. How can we even hope for global development when women are being bought, sold, beaten, raped and even killed for their beliefs?
So, as International Women’s Day enters its 101st year, what can we hope for in basic female rights? All I know is that as women continue to speak out in the Ivory Coast, protest in Egypt and search for equality worldwide, it seems like the search for global equality for women is far from over.