Celebrating women’s strength and solidarity beyond International Women’s Day

March 7, 2024

By Rumbidzayi Cordelia Machimbirike, S(HE) Matters Project  Officer, Hivos Southern Africa

It’s wonderful to see the world embracing Women’s Month and celebrating the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.” This annual celebration recognizes the remarkable contributions women have made throughout the year and underscores the ongoing fight for gender equality.

While celebrating achievements, we must also recognize the enormous challenges so many women face. Particularly in conflict zones, like in Israel where a team of UN experts reported that women were the target of sexual violence during the October 7 attacks, and in Gaza, where women and girls are likewise suffering grave human rights violations and roughly 9,000 women have been killed since early October 2023.

This assault on women’s dignity and women’s rights must stop!

Women leading the way

Closer to home, Zimbabwean women have to deal with multiple challenges, including underrepresentation in elected and appointed positions, the burden of unpaid care work, and the threat of gender-based violence. These are aggravated by a deteriorating health system and the looming threat of drought. Yet, on this International Women’s Day, I choose to celebrate the inspiring story of their resilience and unwavering spirit.

I’ve been fortunate to explore our stunning country and engage with a diverse range of women who are taking the lead in their communities. These women, many of whom are the backbone of the agricultural sector, display indescribable strength as they toil under the scorching sun. They are also establishing platforms for self-organizing, fostering dialogue, and finding innovative solutions to the problems they face.

Sisterhood and solidarity

We must not accept the prevailing narrative of women in politics as rivals; it’s not only inaccurate, but also detrimental to progress. No, we must all stand against the “pull-her-down syndrome” and instead, embrace the powerful story of solidarity and sisterhood that binds Zimbabwean women together.

Cutting across diverse backgrounds and following varied paths, I see Zimbabwean women establishing connections that transcend societal divides. The prevailing spirit of solidarity resonates as a potent source of empowerment, fostering a collective strength that lays the groundwork for a future characterized by equity and inclusivity.

Celebrating women every day

On this International Women’s Day, it’s crucial to acknowledge the tireless efforts of numerous organizations that dedicated to supporting women across various aspects of their lives. We must commend the endeavors undertaken by the Government of Zimbabwe demonstrating a commitment to enhancing the lives of women and realizing the vision of gender equality. Additionally, my appreciation goes to individual activists who, through their voices and agency, persist in their mission to guarantee that women not only possess but actively enjoy their rights. Their collective efforts are making huge contributions to women’s well-being and the realization of a more equitable and inclusive society.

I commit to celebrating women every day, not just in March. We must consistently recognize women as leaders, acknowledging their strength, resilience, and pivotal role in shaping society. It’s my firm belief that women can and will lead, driving positive change and progress. This commitment is a daily celebration of women as leaders and influential contributors to our communities and the world.