Women's March

March 8 was International Women's rights day or commonly known "Women's day".

Blouse - store in my neighborhood
Peplum skirt and matching scarf - fabric bought at Sandaga market and tailor made
Shoes - Adanif 
Earring - Sandaga Market

Many people tend to celebrate this day without really knowing what it is about. This day is meant to celebrate the achievements women have had particularly in terms of equal rights to men. It is also meant to shed lights on many issues women are facing worldwide. The first international women's day was celebrated on March 19th 1911 in Europe mainly in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In 1977, the UN  General Assembly proclaimed March 8 as the UN Day for Women's Rights and International Peace.

In many countries, the day is celebrated by women marching, organizing rallies, conferences to raise awareness on gender issues and inequalities. We live in a world that is dominated by men. They make the rules and those rules mostly benefit only them. Women are treated like second class Citizen in many countries. They are not allowed to decide for them or their children.

Senegal, my beloved country is the kind of country that would like to show to the world that its women are well treated. In fact, we have more women in power or in decision making areas that before. We have more women CEO, politicians, and entrepreneurs in 2018 than ten years ago. Women, particularly in the cities work, and have more financial freedom. Yet we are still expected to marry young, and bear children. A successful women in her late 30s without a husband does not even have say in her own family. And if ever she finds herself a husband, she is still expected to take care of the house and the children (and her in-laws) once she is back from work. Women are expected to stay beautiful and shut up. Men run the world and we should accept it.

The physical and verbal abuse that goes on behind closed doors in this country cannot be calculated because women mostly never denounce their assaillants for they are their own husbands. And it does not matter whether the woman is educated, have a great job or not. Abuse does not discriminate.
Women, or should I say girls are still being married Young without their consent, usually to much older men. They are not allowed to finish school and they can never learn a skill that can help them earn an income. Worse, some women are not even permitted to work by their husbands. Girls undergo genital mutilation without their consent, leading to health problems in their future. Women are sexually harassed, sexually assaulted without any justice being done.

Part of the problems are the laws and the fact that the government does not do much to enforce them. But one of the main reason is also lack of education. Women do not know their rights. We are not taught our rights at school. And it is definitely not in a household where your own mother teaches you to bow down to your husband that you will learn about them. Women have to educate themselves and be educated.

Men are also a huge factor for they do not know the struggle of the women. In this country they are taught that women from their mothers, sisters to wives have to take care of them. Their only job as men is to provide, which is hard. That is why most of them think that is it ok to abuse of their role, their power just because they give the money. This problem also can be fixed by educating men. It starts at home with the behavior of the parents. Fathers and mothers have to educate their sons, let them know that it is not okay to treat a woman poorly. Parents have to give the good example as well. It is about behavior. If a child grows up seeing his father constantly putting his mother down, he may start to think that is common behavior and will probably repeat the pattern. I have two sons, and I am constantly on their case, trying to teach them how to behave properly not only to women but also to other human beings. I want them to be cordial, gentle and decent. I want to teach them that violence is never the answer to any issue but rather diplomacy and communication. They are still young but their education is ongoing. I dread seeing them growing up and facing the real cruel world but that would never stop me from making them ready.

With some of my co-workers from all shapes and sizes and color....

I was Lucky enough to be born in a family where my education was valued at the same level as my brothers. My parents pushed me to pursue my studies to the highest level. My Dad particularly never stop pushing me even arguing with my Mom who wanted me to learn how to do chores, to let me study. That does not mean my mother wanted me to stop studying. On the contrary she wanted me to learn everything so that I could be a well rounded woman. My parents also let me take my own decisions when I became old enough. They let me chose the kind of studies I wanted to pursue even when it did not align with their dreams. They let me chose the man I wanted to marry even if they had reservations. My brothers as well have always been very supportive of me. Sometimes when I think about my life, I cannot help but feel blessed because there are women who did not have the opportunities I had. You read or watch so many horror stories that your soul cannot bear. God gave women  the ability to bear it all but that does not mean that we have to be the world's punching bag. We need to be recognized, valued, cherished because the world does not go around without us.

This day in my country many women celebrated by wearing matching fabric often given by their companies. Our company is not that generous unfortunately so we decided to do it ourselves. We went to the market and bought the fabric then each one of us took it to their tailor. I was so impressed to see the results: not one outfit looked like the other. Finally the men in our company were generous enough to offer us cakes and nice messages. Other firms go as far as to offer gifts and have parties. Some women argue that it is a way to downsize the importance of the day. We throw clothes and jewels at women and make them feel like they are celebrated but nothing of substance is done. Yet, I like the fact that women do celebrate that day. Wearing matching outfits with my girlfriends at work was pretty empowering. Who says feminists cannot be fashionable as well?

At the end of the day, we just have to remember that although we came a long way, we still have a long road ahead of us. We need equal pay, we need more financial freedom, more education, we need women at decision making positions, we need to teach men what is okay and what can no longer be tolerated. I am not an activist but I am willing to make my contribution to the movement for it is not only a feminist or a woman's cause; it is HUMAN cause.

Happy International Women's Day!


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