“Whathint’ Abafazi Whathint’ imbokodo!” was the protest song sung outside Prime Minister Strijdom’s door in 1956 and translates to: Now you have struck a women, you have struck a rock. This phrase has come to represent the courage and strength of South African women.
On 9 August 1958, more than 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings to protest against the apartheid government’s pass laws. And the message was clear: “We’ve had enough!” This powerful statement of protest brought the struggle for women’s rights to the fore and as a nation we now celebrate this historical march in the form of Women’s month in August.
Sure, we have come a long way since then, and of course today the reality is very different. Since 1994 we have much greater women’s representation in parliament, the government, and in civil society. However, being a women in South Africa continues to have its challenges.
According to the 2018 Grant Thornton International Business Report, women still lag behind their male counterparts in business. Gender representivity is still below the 50% mark for positions of influence. Fact is, although almost one third (29%) of senior roles in South Africa are now filled by women, one in five local businesses (20%) still have no women in senior positions.
National Woman’s Day on the 9th of August draws attention to significant issues still at the forefront in our society as gender based violence, sexual harassment in the workplace, and unequal pay continues to plague our country. However, the ground has been made fertile by those fearless women in 1956 who have shown us that nothing is impossible. Changing the reality in South Africa must be a common goal. We can no longer turn a blind eye. It’s our turn to continue to fight injustices.
It’s time to be inspired and empowered by the beauty and the strength of ordinary South African women who daily continue to make a difference in their communities. Let’s also be proud of and honour the women that have broken the proverbial glass ceiling and has flown our flag high on the international stage. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was the first woman to chair the African Union Commission, while former Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is the executive director of UN Women. Amazing, right?
But more importantly, we need to recognise not only what has been achieved up to now, but what more needs to be done. Let’s stand up against inequality every day and support those women in need. Honour National Women’s Day by donating to, or volunteering at an organisation that empowers women of all races and backgrounds. Or start a collection for sanitary products and toiletries to donate to women’s shelters and schools. Advocate gender equality in your workplace and be a mentor for young women in your industry.
Let’s pay tribute to the women in our country. We as women have a great story to tell. Be proud of your femininity and strength. Build on what strong and powerful women before us have already set in motion, and be proud – of yourself, of other women and of the future women to come.
Happy Women’s Day ladies!
Source: womenshealthmag.com, dailymaverick.co.za, statssa.gov.za, en.wikipedia.org, gov.za, nationaltoday.com, africantravelcanvas.com, news24.com, indiatoday.in, futurewomen.com, nowtolove.com.au
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