International days are usually seen as occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems and also to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. International women’s day is not different from these occasions. The fact about this day is that, it is an international day which is observed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. The seeds of it were planted in 1908 when 15000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. It was the socialist party of America who declared the first National Women’s day a year later. The idea to make the day international came from a woman called Clara Zetkin who suggested the idea in 1910 at an international conference of working women in Copenhagen. Things were made official in 1975 when the UN started celebrating the day. Since then, international women’s day has been celebrated up to date.
International Women’s Day was honoured for the first time in Denmark, Austria, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million men and women attended the International Women’s Day rallies in support and also campaigning for women’s right to vote, work, training, to hold public office and to hopefully put an end to the discrimination against women. In 1983, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote but not to stand for parliamentary elections.
Every year, International Women’s Day is observed on March 8 with the purpose to support a platform that helps forge positive change for women. Be it in any field, ladies have never left any stone unturned to prove themselves. This is because, women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotype and violence; a future that is sustainable, peaceful with equal rights and opportunities for all. The theme for this year’s international women’s day is” Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world “However, the campaigning theme was, “choose to challenge”. It is always cardinal to know that a challenged world is an alert world and from the challenge comes change. TOSF staff have every year taken part in celebrating international women’s day but this year the event has been celebrated in style by looking back at a woman who has chosen to challenge and crossed all hurdles with hard work.
Jackline Kutemba Kapalu who is no less than a wonder woman and also locally known as “Landlady” at TOSF is a support staff who has faced all scandals and societal pressures alone, as a single parent to two beautiful daughters and a son. It is true to mention that a critical issue for women is the possibility to be a mother and the ability to participate fully in the work force regardless of the nature of the job being done. Jackline is narrating to the world on how her journey with TOSF has changed her life as a woman and that of her children.
I met Ms. Leela champ in 2005 in the township of Buseko where she conducted English classes for women who were economic migrants from rural areas of Zambia, the women were stranded in Lusaka due to deceitful business dealing. We ended sleeping on cardboard boxes under plastic sheets, come rain or sunshine. Being one of those downtrodden women, I met Ms. Champ during this English class. I was also 6 months pregnant carrying my last born. Ms. Champ was concerned about the delivery of my baby and me. That is why she was looking for me, and then two years later we accidentally met again. Another chapter of my life began by being employed at the newly constructed TOSF School in George compound. In 2010, I was officially employed by TOSF which is run by Mrs. Leela Champ. Honestly speaking my life has never been the same. Coming from a broken marriage, uneducated and jobless is a bitter pill to swallow. The father to my children had neglected them who later remarried and the children were all left under my care.
My job as a maid at TOSF gave me hope. To borrow the famous quote which says,” I don’t need a man to buy me diamonds; I can own them by myself.” I learned to turn my wounds into wisdom and made a vow to educate my children through my simple job. I refused the word,”just women” which is used to underrate and devalue the work of women and downplay their significance, on a daily basis hence choosing to face a challenge to bring change. In as much as it is said that, women may have to work twice or three times as hard as men to achieve the same recognition, while, if that is what it takes for me to be successful then, I Jackline will accept the challenge by working that hard because I am capable.
Like artist Spar Street once said,” the agent of change is that past of us that deeply wants to make a difference in this world, to uplift our own lives in a way that inspires others to recognise greatness and do wonderful things. It is the allowing of heaven to move through us unimpeded so that we can be of service even as our wishes to fulfil our dreams as parents are being executed. I chose to do that by taking a bold step and attended evening adult education classes which are run at TOSF and later on sat for grade nine (9) external leaving examinations. Results came out and I obtained a school certificate to go to grade ten (10). I was very happy with this achievement because at one time I was not able to read, write or speak English but now I am a holder of a junior secondary school certificate. What gave me the zeal to go that far is because I believed that education is a true measure of the progress made by states to attain success and excellence in the field of investment in human capital, including women hence advocating for my education and my children too. An educated human, man or woman is the basis of civilization and axis of advancement and progress henceforth I strongly wanted that for my children and I.
Not only have I realised the dream of myself and my children through education but I have also managed to own a land of my own through my savings from my salary though I haven’t started building yet but soon I will because I am determined to do that. I was homeless and illiterate when I met Mrs Champ at Buseko but now a land owner and literate too. Who would not celebrate these achievements? If none would, I will because my achievements are great. I am very proud of myself as a woman and see myself celebrating this year’s women’s day. I am able to pay my rentals and put food on the table for my family, meaning that I do not beg to survive because I have a job with me. It is indeed an incredible and awesome achievement and experience all together.
My word to my fellow women out there is that, do not look down upon yourself, you can stand up and choose challenges to change the world like I did. Above all, to achieve all these as a woman calls for commitment, hard work, patience, perseverance and of course focus otherwise the world would oppress you before you oppress it.
This is just a quick look back at the lady who is a living example of women who have challenged the world and stood against all the odds to prove her potential. May the glorified womanhood flourish to set more examples for the world to follow just like Jacklin did. Otherwise, “Happy International women’s day to all women who have chosen the challenge to change the world”..