Bread and roses from WOZA

BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT BULAWAYO - This Valentine's Day WOZA, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, will be bringing their powerful and uniquely feminine message to the streets of Zimbabwe once again. Their theme this year is 'Bread and Roses' and it's inspired by the 'Bread and Roses' strike led and won by A

merican women textile workers in 1912. For WOZA in 2006, bread symbolises the need for affordable food and roses the need for dignity and social justice. WOZA’s first Valentine’s Day march, in 2003, was a bid to counter the violence and hate they saw unleashed on the people of Zimbabwe by highlighting the need for love. In spite of hundreds of arrests since then, WOZA continues to make the voices of the women of Zimbabwe heard. In 2004 their valentine’s cards and roses were graciously received by the Chitungwiza police in spite of shoot-to-kill orders and in 2005 hundreds of women marched through the streets of Bulawayo and Harare proclaiming that ‘The Power of Love Can Overcome the Love of Power.’ WOZA is determined to make the government and the international community take account of the effect of the crisis in Zimbabwe on women, their families, and their children. Through street actions WOZA pressurizes for policies and programmes rather than political allegiance and in a climate where ordinary Zimbabweans are ransomed in the power games of a ruthless elite, WOZA ‘s non-partisan approach is refreshing and vital. Decisions on what actions to take and what messages to highlight are made in small meetings up and down the country with workshops and debates to build leadership and develop ideas. The WOZA women have brought their brooms onto the streets to ‘put the house of Zimbabwe in order’ and banged their pots to draw attention to their emptiness; they have joined the trades unions in decrying economic chaos and the NCA in calling for a people driven constitution. Underlying their message there is always the appeal for Zimbabweans to show love and accord dignity to one another. As a new year unfolds in Zimbabwe with inflation rocketing and the aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina taking its toll in sickness, hunger and hardship, Bread and Roses is a poignantly apposite theme for WOZA’s Valentine’s Day march. Let us salute those on the streets of Zimbabwe who have the courage to rise up and defend the rights so precious to us all. For those in the UK who would like to show their solidarity with WOZA’s bread and roses march in Zimbabwe, there will be a WOZA support rally outside Zimbabwe House, 429 the strand, from 12noon to 2pm on Saturday February 18. For more information contact [email protected]

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