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09.03.2007 General News

Celebrating Our Women

Yesterday women around the world marked the International Women's Day with an urgent call for the need to end “impunity for violence against women and girls”.

Happily, in our country the Domestic Violence Law, which seeks to address some of the pain that women and children go through, has been passed by Parliament.

It may be true that the law, as it stands, may not provide all the answers to the problems facing woman but it amply demonstrates that there is the goodwill to alleviate whatever plight they face.

With time, those provisions which seem inimical could be amended or improved upon.

Women have critical and invaluable roles to play for society to move on as expected. However, there are many social and cultural practices which have conspired to stifle their development.

In some cultures, because it is the man who pays the dowry, sometimes he tends to think he has absolute control over the woman.

There is the ordeal of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which young girls have to undergo, through no fault of theirs, except that they are female. The practice has not helped to make those who go through it more virtuous than those who do not.

It is encouraging that civil society and women's groups have championed the fight against that barbaric and devastating practice.

We cannot also avoid talking about the practice of Trokosi, under which women are held in bondage, instead of being allowed to avail themselves of the opportunity to go to school.

All those practices do not advance the progress of girls and women. Therefore, during this period of the celebration of the International Women's Day, serious consideration must be given to all the impediments standing in the way of women's development and concrete steps and action plans made to eliminate them.

Indeed, those who believe in the Bible recognise that women were created to complement the efforts of men and so there is no basis for men to take actions which tend to debase the role of women in the scheme of things.

In fact, the Bible enjoins those who believe this to love their wives as themselves. Clearly, they are not expected to act in ways which seem to bring their wives down.

Family life is never complete without a woman playing her invaluable role. But that is not all — many women are climbing the social ladder and moving abreast of their male counterparts in the world of work.

It is important that they are given equal chance to prove their capabilities wherever they find themselves.

But, as the women mark their day, it is also important that those who beat their husbands bear in mind that the law will catch up with them.

We join the women in their celebration.