Labour Wrap: Pledges do nothing for women

Labour Wrap:

Every August - National Women’s Month - there is a ritual that amounts to pledges to improve the lot of women, says Terry Bell in his latest Labour Wrap. And, on Sunday the ritual will continue with remembrances of the great anti-pass march by women on Union Buildings. 

However, Bell maintains that very little has really changed in the position of women, especially on a global basis. He also points out that, in South Africa, so much history, especially regarding women, has been forgotten or distorted.

Many of the historical facts that have been unearthed have also been the work of historians from other lands. A classic example of this is the story of the evangelist, educator and academic, Nokutela Dube. Bell notes that she played an often more than equal role in the substantial achievements of the educator John Dube, who was the first president of what became the ANC.

However, it was Mali-born American academic Cherif Keita who unearthed details of Nokutela’s life and produced a film, Remembering Nokutela, that was screened last year by the BBC. Bell hopes that, this being Women’s Month, it will be screened here.

However, he says the “media murmurings” about Women’s Month tended to be eclipsed by news that Beijing had been awarded the right to stage the 2022 Winter Games. This, he adds, is ironic, and not only because of China’s poor record of human, let alone women’s rights.  

Bell points out that 20 years ago, 189 countries signed the Beijing Declaration described as a “visionary agenda” for women’s rights. However, that vision, he says, remains a mirage for millions of women around the world.

He adds that, historically, the Olympics have had a baleful influence, being initially an elitist, male only and racist movement that was countered by organised labour in the form of “worker games”. 

As a result, he says he will focus in his Inside Labour column on the relationship between the Olympics, Beijing and women’s rights.

* Add your voice to this and / or the big labour debate or simply ask Terry a labour question.

* Terry Bell is a political, economic and labour analyst. Views expressed are his own. Follow him on twitter @telbelsa.

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