7 March 2012

International Women's Day

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. Every year on March 8th or le 8 Mars women in Congo celebrate themselves. As they should. I had never really heard of International Women’s Day before moving to Congo, but they take it pretty seriously here. There are parades and beautiful dresses. Who could ask for more?
Women’s Day is a tradition started in 1909 as a Socialist political event.
Eastern European posters from the 1930s say, "Down with the oppression and narrow-mindedness of household work!" and, “The 8th of March is the day of rebellion of working women against kitchen slavery." I kind of wish all Congolese women had their own kitchen.

The 1932 Soviet poster dedicated to the 8th of March holiday.
The red text reads:
The 8th of March: A day of rebellion by working women against kitchen slavery.
The grey text in lower right reads:
Say NO to the oppression and vacuity of household work!"
Source: plakaty.ru
In Congo during the weeks leading up to Women’s Day, there are pagnes with the year’s special design. Women have elaborate dresses made from the fabric to wear on their day. Our very progressive, very opinionated French tutor told Jill he thought women should be making themselves pants for Women’s Day instead of dresses. He may have a point.

This year’s theme in Congo is women who work in the fields or forest harvesting manioc and maïs. Les cultivatrices. They’ll parade tomorrow waving leaves and fronds.

I asked Mama Youyou and Mamicho a bit more about the traditions and they said mainly it’s the man’s responsibility to buy pagne for their wives and children. If he forgets he’s in big trouble. Just then a friend walked in and I asked him if he had bought his wife and children their pagne yet. He said, “Bien sur.” And then I asked if he would be in trouble if he forgot. I've never seen a more serious, “Bien sur!

In celebration, Jill and I will be making Adam drive us out in the bush. Our pastor’s wife is an OBGYN and she’s invited us to her hospital to see her work. What better way to celebrate than learn more about women working for women. And make my husband do something he probably doesn't want to do.

1 comment:

  1. I'm loving the blog, guys- funny and informative, which is more than I can say for most blogs- cool use of the pink arrow :)


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