Happy International Women’s Day! I first heard of IWD years back when I was completing an internship with a national newspaper in Kenya. During the 2nd week of my internship I was dispatched to the British Council offices in Nairobi to cover the events of the day, which included the screening of videos about the lives of women from a handful of African countries.
My heart ached at the plight of those women. One of them, for example, single-handedly did all the hard (menial) work required to keep her family afloat in a patriarchal society, while her husband lazed around all day, drinking palm wine and swapping stories with other men.
Women deserve to be celebrated much more than they actually are, especially in Africa.
Last week I a gallery talk at UT’s Center for African and African American Studies. Celeste Henry, a doctoral student, shared some of what she learned from the research she had done on the Meninas de Sinhá, a musical women’s group in Brazil.
The group was founded after one of the women noticed that many of her neighbors (women in their 50s and 60s) would walk out of a nearby health center with multitudes of pills. Upon inquiring of them, she found out that these drugs had been prescribed to them for depression. Because she was convinced there was a better way than drugs, she founded Meninas de Sinhá.
The women get together about three times a week and learn folk songs and dances. This shared time together has cured the women of depression and they are no longer on antidepressants. The group started out performing at schools and other small community events, but now has national recognition.
Hearing this story brought into sharp focus for me just what an integral part women play in each others’ lives and in the lives of others in their spheres of influence. Take some time this week to recognize and appreciate the women in your life. And ladies, hang onto your girlfriends; their friendships keep you in good health.