Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Women's Day 2010

International Women’s Day: Cameroonians don’t believe this day isn’t celebrated in the United States. “But it’s international… and you are American women. How can you not celebrate it?” Good question. So what is it about women that we celebrate here? We celebrate the equality of women. Our subdivisional officer stressed that it isn’t the government who gives equality to women. It’s each individual woman who claims it. And though a third world country is hardly an easy place for women to claim equality, there are plenty who impress me with their independence and open minds. Just the other day I met a woman in a taxi who told me she’s too young to get married. She’s 28! Most Cameroonians would consider that well beyond the marrying age. She commented, “My house is only big enough for me. Where will I keep a husband? The first bedroom is where I sleep. The second is my office and the third is my dressing room.” I had to ask her, “Don’t people pester you about living alone?” I know I’m asked all the time why I would want to live alone. “Yes, of course,” she replied, “but you simply have to explain to people that you have the right to live exactly as you want. And this is what I want.”

Some argue that women’s day has become all about the women’s day clothing material. They call it a fashion show. You see, every year, a new women’s day material is sold (usually in 3 different colors) and women are expected to buy some and have a dress made. And usually, there is actually a fashion show. I noticed only the women who were wearing this year’s material were asked to march in the parade. It’s unfortunate since the material isn’t cheap and I know many women who would have wanted to buy the material but simply couldn’t afford it. I was happy when the subdivisional officer made a comment about this also. His speech began with, “Women’s Day is not about the tissue.” He reminded us 3 times. I don’t blame him at all.

The Community Health Agents of my village (which was started by my former postmate) gave a demonstration to women on how to use women’s condoms. The demonstration received much snickering and looks of disapproval from the crowd--yet the agents were very serious about their message and offered free condoms to the crowd. I didn’t see anyone refuse a free sample.

I mostly stood in the sun taking photos. The sun was fierce and I noticed a sunburn once I was home. My dress was a simple, traditional “kabbah,” which is similar to a moo-moo or nightgown in the states. It’s comfortable but not my idea of fashionable. However, Cameroonians get a kick out of seeing me in kabbahs. My post mate, Kim, sported a kabbah as well. Hers was a lovely shade of yellow.
That’s it for today!


Caped Crusader said...

I love reading your blogs and wonder myself why we don't have a Women's Day but this month is Women's History Month. Although, it seems we don't have that many events for this month. I miss you and can't wait to see you.

Caped Crusader said...

Just realized that my username for the blog I created with my kids popped up. So please check it out.