Goodbye international women’s week, hello normality
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Tony Zakaria
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The international women's week came and went like a flash. It was gone before you could sing Old McDonald had a farm. Puff. Celebrated with pomp and fanfare in many lands and territories. And maybe completely ignored is some other lands.

Do you think women were celebrating in Libya, Somalia or Iraq? While it rained cats and dogs in my beloved Tanzania, it was bombs falling like rain in Mosul and in Kabul. In Mogadishu and Benghazi, many, people died from hails of bullets and mortar shellings. Peace and security is a major issue in many countries affected by war.

Women are disproportionately affected by civil unrest of any kind. Women are not at peace in their countries scores of years after the Beijing women's conference.

When 17,000 women and 30,000 activists invaded Beijing in September 1995, there was oversupply of optimism about a global agenda to achieve gender equality in all spheres of life including in education, human rights, environment and economic empowerment. Granted a lot has been achieved in many UN member countries in the past 21 years.

However, not even super wealthy countries that pride themselves of being democratic and free have achieved gender equality. Generally men earn more and in some countries women earn less for doing lhe same job.

I many women work in hazardous conditions and a third experience some form of violence at least once in their lives. Despite great advances in medicine and technology in the world, about 300,000 women died in pregnancy and childbirth in 2015, this according to the world health organization.

That is over 800 women dying daily in the process of giving life. Why, pray? If man has been able to land on the moon and create satellites capable of taking a photo of a blood peeing on the roadside in Santa Juu, Kilimanjaro, why has it been so difficult to find simple and affordable solutions to save the lives of women in general and mothers in particular?

It is a man's world and men do not get pregnant. Women can make all the noise they want but in many territories, men make the important public decisions. It is in the political corridors of power where the date of women in society gets decided.

Unfortunately, women are still disproportionately under-represented in parliament in most countries. Rwanda is the lone exception globally with 51 women out of 80 (64%) in the council of deputies.

Can you see this happening in Britain, USA, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait in the next decade? These are some of the rich countries where women ought to have a major say in how that wealth is acquired and distributed. In 2017, only 104 women (19,4%) serve in the USA Congress out of 535. Less than 20% eh?

This is the bastion of democracy we are talking about. Now I know why Americans did not choose Hilary Clinton for president. Give them a man, any man who can participate in a men's locker room banter

. A woman, no sir. When she had a cold, she was labelled weak. I guess a man with a cold is still macho man. And then somebody, the other candidate, unleashed the nuclear weapons of any man wanting to put a woman down by calling her a liar. When did lying become a liability in politics?

Men lie all the time about who they met the other day, be it a mistress, business rival or Russian ally. And they get away with it. Saudi Arabia has made history, with now 30 women out of 151 members in the Majlis Ash-Shura or consultative council. Palestinian women represent a paltry 13% in their national Assembly.

Maybe this is one reason negotiations with Israel over the many issues of occupation and sovereignty have been booted down by testosterone planet. In Egypt women account for about 15% of legislators. Come on Egypt. After millennia of government, you can only manage 15% women representation at national legislature?

The Pharaoh's wives were powerful in their time, they has a voice. What happened since? Libya is the same 15% as is Croatia. Indonesia a bit higher at 17%. For an Asian economic tiger, 17% is small. Your people should have more faith in the women of the land. Some countries are much worse than our Muslim brothers in the land of the Pharaoh's and king Idris.

The Solomon islands women representation in parliament stands at 2.0%. The only time I visited Solomon Islands in the Pacific ocean, I saw most men wear skirts. So maybe no need to elect women into parliament, there are enough men to represent both genders.

What is wrong with the two Congos? Congo Brazzaville has 7.4% and the self-styled democratic republic du Congo boasts of a rich 8.9% women in parliament. With such low representation can those few women really exert a significant impact on what gets decided on how the vast mineral wealth, forests and waters gets used? In the land of the Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar, leaders with vision could foresee that area with cavemen mentality would vote for women representatives unless a big club was being held against their heads.

So they included a quota system for women in the laws of the land. Currently 126 (36%) of the 350 members of parliament are women, in large part because of special seats for women. Without women at the dinner table of the nation, there will not be sufficient food for the weak, the vulnerable and the common masses. It is why am struggling to understand the logic behind Brazil having 90% of its chamber of deputies is male members. They had a woman president but she could not last.

Dilma vana Rouseff had to go. How can such a powerful position be in the hands of a woman? This is my theory. You heard about South Korea where President Pak was listed via a political coup that has received the blessing of the courts. She was elected by the people.

In Korea, women make up 17% (51 of 300 ) seats of the Kuk Hoe or national Assembly. Pak had no chance among the many males. Now that the international week of women is gone, it is business as usual in many quarters, with or without quotas for women in national and provincial assemblies. God bless our women.

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