Back when I was good about putting out consistent content, I had a goal of putting content out on all of the *international* and *national* days, always relating it to Ghana; these tended to be Facebook posts for my personal page (here is the link, however I have not been any more consistent with that page, than I have been with this blog). For International Women’s Day (IWD), I used to highlight a Ghanaian woman, in the past or present time, and why we need to know more about the amazing Ghanaian women out there (here is a favourite past one of mine). This day last year, on IWD, my post was more of a generic article share on my personal wall, though still an important one. The article provides a quick discussion and then shares the statement released by Ghana’s First Lady, on the topic of IWD. It was a fantastic press release.
Later in the day, a woman I know told me that she could never relate to IWD, because growing up, she never experienced limitations and always felt like women’s issues (as we may call them) are things that happen *over there.* Now do not go hating on her in the comments, people! She now knows what it is about. However she seemed to be expressing to me that she could not shake that feeling in the present day.
And I get it. Growing up in Southern Canada in the 90s, as a white girl, the message was clear: we are liberated and you can do anything you want! The thing is, IWD is about more than just being capable of doing anything a boy/man can do. It is also about respect, justice, nuances. And what white feminism often forgets is that liberation looks different for women of all races. Of all abilities. Of all sexualities. Across the gender spectrum. Across classes. Across borders. Etc.
Intersection feminism addresses things like who is being cat-called, and how the reaction is taken. Being a single mom and how society views you, based on your many identities. Being a Karen (apologies to all the women named Karen who are not *Karen’s*), vs having to walk on eggshells, out of fear of being told you are an *angry black woman.* The list goes on and on.
Later in the day, I received a WhatsApp message from a Ghanian man dear to my heart, wishing me a happy IWD. Thanking him, I asked what he was going to do in the name of IWD. He said he was going to pray for all women to live long and wish us to have successful lives.
I mean thank you for your prayers, but how are they going to tackle the barriers women have, particularly in a country like Ghana? It’s all fine and dandy to wish me a successful life, but what about doing your part as a man, in holding male employers accountable for expecting sexual *favours* in exchange for a job? Holding male university professors accountable for expecting sexual *favours* in exchange for the grades needed to get a degree? Holding male JHS and SHS teachers accountable for sexual assault on teenage girls?
Just ONE of the many systems of barriers Ghanaian women have to navigate through life. One which I can only imagine to be traumatic, both in the short and long term.
Maybe this does not feel like it is *over there* to me, because of the ties I have with Ghana. However even if it is “over there” – speaking to the locations a given person is not attached to – do women’s issues in one part of the world, so far removed from our own, not apply to our own lives?
I do not have much else to say, so here is a song I adore, by one of my favourite Ghanaian artists!