Week 8 Wednesday 8th March -Saturday 11th March 2017
Wednesday the 8th of March was International Women’s Day which is a public holiday in Zambia (hint to British government!), so we didn’t run our usual sessions. Instead, the whole team met at the Community Youth Concern building at 7am before making our way to Women’s Day celebration at Nyimba Boarding School. The school was amazing with a hall and stage decorated in the Zambian national colours, a school tuck shop and amazing wall murals. It was posher than my secondary school in the UK! The main theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was the target to achieve a 50:50 gender balanced society by 2030 where women have realised their potential as contributors to economic and political development. One of the event’s speakers, a female pastor, touched upon this theme stating that women shouldn’t listen to anyone that says females can’t do anything except traditional female roles and that “women can do anything men can do”.
The organisers in Nyimba particularly focused on Gender Based Violence, a key issue in Zambia. According to a survey in Zambia, 48% of men and women thought it was justified if a man hits his wife/girlfriend for burning his food, answering back, leaving the house without his permission or refusing sex. During the International Women’s Day ceremony, we watched a sketch on why some women across Zambia have killed their husbands in self-defense against domestic violence. Then there was a talk by the One Stop Centre giving out information on where to go in the Nyimba District to get support if you’re a victim of GBV. We learnt that the local One Stop Centre was at the Old Nyimba District hospital and the emergency number for Victims of GBV.
There were ceremonial dances and performances from local religious women’s groups and school girls, and speeches from the District Commissioner and politicians. There was plenty of dancing as the music speakers played music. At one point, the ICS volunteers were dragged to the front of the stage by a group of cheerful women. I looked like I was dancing properly for the first time thanks to a good dance partner! Overall, I enjoyed the performances , the lively environment and watching women performers dressed in beautiful chitenge garments , but it got claustrophobic as more people crowded into the hall in the sweltering heat.
(Photos above of the International Women’s Day celebrations at Nyimba Boarding School. I don’t take credit for the photos)
Everything returned to normal on Thursday as CYC2 facilitated a session to our largest number of audience at Mulira School. We talked to 145 lively pupils which was a nightmare to control. On Friday, two teammates and I ran the 5th Active Citizenship Day on Quality Education , which went relatively smooth despite a really badly planned crossword. One of the activities I enjoyed running was the ‘True’ and ‘False’ statements. We came up with certain statements relating to education like “Poverty is a justified reason why a child should not have access to education” and asked our fellow teammates to move to the ‘Agree’ , ‘disagree’ or ‘on the fence’ walls. It was interesting to here opinions of my teammates on key issues facing the quality of education in the developing and developed world, although it got heated towards the end. A lot of ICS volunteers enjoyed ACDs because it provided the opportunity to learn about development issues and gave us a chance to voice our opinions on controversial topics. On Saturday, one of the volunteers was celebrating their birthday so we celebrated by holding a BBQ at ‘Paradise’, an isolated but pleasantly private yard where we went to top up our tans. It was nice to relax while eating hot dogs and burgers, and sipping a cheeky Smirnoff Spin.