International Women’s Day – March 8, 2021
By Tiri Masawi
Windhoek – Namibia’s First Lady, Monica Geingos, has released a thought-provoking and hard-hitting video in which she challenges gender stereotypes and shreds apart misogynist tendencies that have become normalised, particularly on social media.
The video has gone viral globally, with people from all over the world hailing the First Lady for her no-holds barred intervention on International Women’s Day (March 8).
Her video was part of the #ChooseToChallenge campaign, which is making a stand against rampant insulting of women on the basis of their gender and stereotypes that go against the tenets of equality and human dignity for all.
First Lady Geingos has faced her fair share of abuse and “slut-shaming” by social media users who have hurled all manner of insults against her. For years, she has stoically borne the attacks in silence, but this year she hit back hard and made a stand for women everywhere.
“The next time you see a tweet, a Facebook or Instagram story shaming women, remember its intent. Gendered stereotypes are harmful and often result in the violation of women’s rights and bodily integrity,” she says in the video.
The First Lady encourages women to stand firm and confront limiting constructs that have kept them down socially, economically and politically.
The bold stand drew the support of Namibia’s Minister of Gender Yvonne Dausab, who took to microblogging site Twitter to also add her voice to the growing lobby to confront limiting social constructs at workplaces.
“I choose to challenge the silence that surrounds young professional women being subjected to sexual harassment and abuse. We cannot stand by and watch. We must fend for them. The impunity of men in positions of power and the constant harassment of women must stop. Speak up,” she said.
Media house across the world have reproduced the First Lady’s video, and numerous articles have been generated about her stand. Social media users have come out in their thousands to back her, and some people who have tried to shame her through insults in the past have retreated, apologised and expressed their admiration for her.
Women tell their own stories
By Gracious Madondo
Harare – Facebook Africa is this year celebrating International Women’s Month (March) by releasing inspirational stories and lessons from 19 outstanding women.
The collection is titled LeadHers: Lessons from African Women.
The book features the stories of African women from backgrounds as diverse as business, education, entertainment, human rights, law, media and sports, among other sectors.
Each chapter is dedicated to one woman’s story.
Entrepreneur Baratang Miya from South Africa – whose chapter is titled “Just do it, even if it scares you” – says she was motivated by the urge to bridge the gender divide in Africa’s technology sector.
Coming from an impoverished community, Baratang founded an organisation to empower underprivileged women and girls so that they can pursue careers in ICTs.
“There have been lots of times in my career when I have been afraid to do something, like speaking in a meeting, suggesting an idea or starting a business. But what I have learned over the years is that things that I have been most afraid of are the things I have been most proud about. I have realised that you have to get to do it,” Baratang says.
The chapter titled “Be faithful to your happiness” focuses on Zimbabwean media personality Samantha Musa, popularly known as MisRed. She speaks about how as a career woman, the first born and a single mother of two she struggled to strike a balance between family and professional expectations.
She relates how she went through depression as she felt overwhelmed by the pressures, but came to the realisation that she needed to make sure she was mentally and emotionally strong.
“So I started prioritising myself from that moment on and the more I did that, the more I became effective and productive. I became productive in my career and home life,” MisRed says.
Other women featured in the book include activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (Chad) in the chapter titled “You are to bring different parties together to create solutions”.
Lawyer and Human Rights activist Alice Nkom (Cameroon) is featured under the theme “When you commit yourself to a cause, you must be prepared to go all the way”; while Tecla Chembwani, a Kenyan athlete and educator, speaks of her experiences under the banner “There is nothing a woman cannot do”.
Facebook Africa regional director Nunu Ntshingila said the compilation of the individual experiences was motivated by this year’s International Women’s Month theme, “Choose to Challenge”, as well as the leading role being played by women in shaping the continent’s future.
“This International Women’s Month, it seems only apt to release LeadHers: Life Lessons from African Women. Choose the Challenge, this year’s theme, coincides with that exciting period in Africa’s development narrative with our women now more than ever before, playing a leading role in shaping the future of this promising continent,” she said.
“Cultural and socio-economic challenges that have for centuries held women back are gradually being eroded. However, we know there is still much more to do to ensure full gender parity,” Ntshingila added.
LeadHers: Lessons from African Women is loaded with Afrocentric artistic illustrations from female artists from around Africa, namely Massira Keita )Côte d’Ivoire), Lulu Kitololo (Kenya), Awele Emili (Nigeria) and Karabo Poppy (South Africa).
The book is available for free in digital and physical formats and is a follow-up to the 2020 launch of “Challenge Makers: Lessons from Life and Business”.