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 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 and hence the need for solidarity.
I was born and raised in a small village in rural Swaziland. 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 accept 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 organizing 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 sex, society want 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.
Lastly, solidarity to me goes beyond formal structures to one individual to another. It is not a policy issue but principle.
1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her 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.
This year we are Rising In Solidarity Against the Exploitation of Women. We are initiating a new series, “RISING SOLIDARITY” where we will be sharing stories of extraordinary activists from around the world about their experiences with true solidarity, harnessing a deeper understanding of why it is critical in the fight against systems of oppression and exploitation. Providing both regional and global context for what it means to stand in solidarity with each other.