By 1 Billion Rising Revolution | 2020-09-16
Put in the most simplest of terms solidarity means unity in pursuit of a common goal.
This article, however, requires that I make my own analysis and interpretation of WHAT SOLIDARITY MEANS TO ME. Naturally, when one is expected to write what she/he thinks on a particular subject, it becomes inevitable to appreciate the circumstances and material conditions that informs her ideas and her tools of analysis. It can never be enough to make academic definitions of solidarity without talking to the real issues confronting women, hence the need for solidarity.
I was born and raised in a small village in rural Eswatini. As a young girl growing up in a poor family, I experienced what I now call ‘a school of life for any well-meaning feminist’. I refuse to accept a status of being a victim, who hopelessly accepts patriarchy and its oppressive apparatus. Mine is calling for a revolution for the total emancipation of women against all forms of oppression.
Because I have already mentioned that I am calling for a revolution against the total emancipation of women from all forms of oppression, I also want to make the assertion that to me, solidarity is a potent weapon of the revolution. One may ask what I mean by saying solidarity is a potent weapon in waging the struggle against patriarchy? Clearly, when women are not united and are unorganised patriarchy wins! What this means is that men are in fact organising women to unconsciously participate and perpetuate their own oppression.
The next assertion that I want to make is that solidarity without consciousness of the issues is like owning a car without an engine. I want to argue that it is a duty of all of us sisters to understand the different struggles fought by women all over the world and own these struggles as our own struggle. Solidarity calls us to feel and share the pain and suffering of others in Africa and the world because what they are fighting for is what affect women and that must be enough to make me take up their issues as my own issue and express their suffering at any given platform.
Solidarity is also an act of selflessness and sacrifice. This means that in the cause of giving solidarity, expect to lose privileges that come with complying with the systems that entrench suffering and oppression of women and girls. It also comes with being given labels and called all sorts of insults by society. Solidarity means to me if those insults and name dropping will water the fruit of women’s liberation, then I have no problem being called whatever because mine is standing up for the truth no matter how infamous it may be.
To me solidarity is also an act of love for humanity. It is an appreciation that we as women are discriminated solemnly on the basis of our sex. Based on our gender, society wants us to accept that we are lesser humans and that the violence waged against women is justified and a part of life. To me, anyone who rejects this narrative and actively take action to end patriarchy has a love for humanity and respects the dignity for all human beings.
Sharon Cabusao from Philippines says, I quote, ‘I would like to think of solidarity, not in an abstract sense, for that, too, would be a grave injustice. I would like to think of solidarity as a plight of stairs: the higher we go, the more difficult the climb. Many will be unable to climb higher, many will be willing to go only so far. But reaching the top opens up new worlds, new vistas not only for women, but for our children, too. Women’s liberation, in its true sense, will also mean the liberation of men’.
Women’s solidarity motivates us to turn pain into power. We are not who others say we are; we are who we give Rise to Be(ing). We are unique and in our uniqueness lays our strength. The strength of a woman is in her ability to Rise; to Rise above the muck of a patriarchal society that endeavors to negate the creative Mother in all of us – by Donna Hylton (USA)
Solidarity to me goes beyond formal structures to one individual to another. It is not a policy issue but principle.
One in three women across the planet will be beaten or raped during their lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. Every February, we rise – in hundreds of countries across the world – to show our local communities and the world what one billion looks like and shine a light on the rampant impunity and injustice that survivors most often face. We rise through dance to express joy and community and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence. We rise to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness – one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable.
We cannot beat fascists, rapists, climate deniers and plunderers on their terms. We will never be that cruel, discompassionate, greedy, or murderous. We cannot let ourselves be changed by or sunk in their cynicism, hatred, divisions and destruction.
What we can do is remember we are the many and we can raise the vibration through action, art, connection, imagination and love.
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