Opinions expressed in this section are not necessarily those of GRILA.
International Women´s day and the African Women´s Struggles (By Ameth LO March 8th, 2002)
International Women´s day and the African Women´s Struggles (By Ameth LO March 8th, 2002)
International Women's day and the African Women's Struggles

The main theme for this year's "international Women's day" is "Gender and Poverty".
Despite the relevance of such theme, we know for sure that there is a long way to go in addressing the causes that still maintain African womens in situation of poverty. While lot of men are still reluctant to even consider the possibility of a change of mentality opening up new ways towards gender equality, lot of women too often see this struggle as way to much to carry because of the magnitude of the work that still needs to be done. Even, in countries with a reputation of having an advanced democratic system such as France, men's still occupy 90% of the sits in parliament, while South Africa is trying to stick to it's commitment to have a 30 % female representation in parliament. And when women managed to get to a position of responsability, they are often the target of sexists attacks from their male counterpart. Womens continue to be the principal victims in war torn areas across the world, but also of domestic violence.

But feminism is not only about improving women's conditions. It's also about analyzing the root cause of the inequalities between men and women, thus formulating an alternative project for a new social order.
In Africa, with the advent of colonialism and the subsequent introduction of a capitalist mode of production based on the money economy, cash crops have replaced subsistence farming thus weakening the capacity of whole nations to be self-sufficient in food. In the same process, womens have been taking an increasing role in farming, most of the time feeding their communities while trying to get cash by getting involved also in export oriented agriculture.
After decades of independance, the fate of African womens continue to deteriorate in the context of Structural adjustment programs being imposed to African governments to fit macro-economic policies designed by the world bank and IMF with no positive result whatsoever. In fact, more and more, African ruling elites are transferring the burden of structural adjustment programs down to the shoulders of the popular masses with a big load being carried by the African womens.
In southern Africa, decades of white minority rules have left behind dysfunctional societies… This is best illustrated by the Mozambican case with hundreds of thousands of Mozambican male workers going to South Africa to work in the mining industry, living behind villages populated only by womens and elders with the heavy responsibility to feed, educate and care for the whole community. In countries, such as Zimbabwe, 4000 white farmers are still holding almost half of the most fertile land in the country with the complicity of the international community which is failing to pressure to Britain to respect the terms of Lancaster house agreement relative to the land question.
The struggle to achieve equality between sexes will necessarily have to challenge cultural and religious forms that are used to legitimize injustices inflicted to women.
Committed feminists are still facing a lot of challenges: In general, there is a need to deepen the solidarity work between women's struggle in the North, meaning advanced countries in world capitalist system and in the South (the peripheral countries of this same system). Such unification of the struggle should not however be romantic, but should also take into consideration the different levels of gravities of women's conditions in these two separate parts of the world, (i-e the developed and under-developped world).
March 8th, which should be celebrated every day, should allow us to raise fundamental questions pertaining to womens conditions in this world, but also to the state of the world capitalist system that is maintaining and increasing inequalities between men and womens, between whites and non white, between North and South, between the center and the periphery.
Because of that, we can be silent on the fate of Palestinian womens struggling day by day in the occupied territories of Palestine or in Chiapas. We can not be silent when millions of womens are languishing in refugee camps in Angola, DRC, Burundi as consequence of war being imposed upon the populations of these countries by greedy multi-national corporation, solely motivated by the extraction of the natural resources of the African continent by funding and training puppets rebels movements such as Jonas Savimbi's Unita in Angola.

So as I mentioned earlier, the challenges facing the feminist movement are numerous, specially in Africa. Such struggle will only be successful when properly organized by womens, with the solidarity from the most conscious elements of the male population, for the advent of a new social order based on equality and justice.
Ameth LO
GRILA Toronto
Toronto March 8th, 2002
This opinion article was written by a independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of GRILA