Statistically, women constitute 52% of Zimbabwe's population. Like other women in the developing world, they are the first and worst affected by hunger and poverty. Due to the present political and economic situation, women have been left vulnerable and unable to undertake their duties as caregivers and as the back-bone of their families. To add on to this situation, their husbands and sons are unemployed, leaving them unable to cope with the harsh economic conditions made worse by rampant corruption.
36 years after independence, the situation is dire, with starving families having one, and if fortunate two meals a day. In light of this, Zimbabwean women have decided to take a stand against prejudice, injustice, and prosecution by making a loud, powerful statement with their cooking pots.
This is how the #BeatThePot campaign has come to be, asking all women in Zimbabwe to join a peaceful protest at Bulawayo City Hall this weekend, where they will beat their empty pots to symbolize the hunger and poverty which they are currently experiencing under the ZANU-PF-led government. This comes in the aftermath of last week's shutdown of the country, where people stayed home to protest what they perceived mismanagement of the country.
The #BeatThePot campaign was founded by opposition leader and MDC-T Vice President Thokozani Khupe, along with a few MDC-T senators. The movement hopes to harness the symbolism of women organizing themselves to fight the root cause of their hunger and poverty in order to get the rest of the country to do something about the negligence and bad governance that has led to this situation.
This is not the first time that women have taken to the streets with their utensils in protest. Women in Burkina Faso held demonstrations against former president Blaise Compaore, turning their ordinary wooden spoons into a symbol of defiance.
Women protestors in Ouagadougou went to the streets with their wooden spoons and whistles, with some saying that the women "cooked revolution soup". Following these actions, President Compaore stepped down after ruling for 27 years, giving the country only its second president since the assassination of the country’s charismatic leader Thomas Sankara, often referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”, in 1987.
With this and other protests that are taking place, the organizers of #BeatThePot are hoping that the world will come to recognize that Zimbabwe's women have had enough. We salute you.