Celebrating being a woman

Thursday, August 15, 2013
Bathandwa Mbola

When more than 20 000 South African women converged at the Union Buildings 57 years ago, from every corner of the country, they created one of the enduring land marks of our country’s history. They declared that women should insist on their role in making history.

Those brave women stood resolute in their belief that South Africa could not allow its legacy for future generations to be one of hatred, racial segregation and unfounded oppression.

As grandmothers, wives, mothers, sisters-as proud women–they gathered their voices and their hopes and demanded to be heard.

They stood up to say “no more” and shouted “enough is enough”. They demanded to be valued- as South African citizens and as human beings.

Today I live in a country where, as a woman, I am able to think, talk and write freely- a country where I can live on my own terms. Because of the women of 1956- I now live in a country where the term “liberated woman” now seems to be coming true- although not at the speed needed.

While I still struggle to find the feeling of being safe on the streets, in the dark, I can enjoy my feminism without being ostracized for it.

I am not naive that there are challenges like the high cases of rape, dowry deaths and of domestic violence- but more and more women seem to be standing up and increasing awareness against these acts.  And that is reason to rejoice- no matter how small.

In my ideal world I would be proudest when we can all be free from these shameful acts- this month- I am celebrating the courage of these women and communities who  are standing up and ensuring that their voices are heard, saying ‘enough is enough’.

They say a woman’s essence lies in her ability to care, love and sacrifice for others. Emotional and vulnerable, sometimes erratic and sometimes serene, women display a wonderful range of emotions from being patient to being extremely courageous in times of crisis.

It is for this reason that I am convinced that the new generation of women of this country- from each corner, united-like Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn - we can become the most powerful force to fight abuse, harassment all other iniquitous forms of violence against our daughters and sisters and not just as women but as the whole of society standing together.

South Africa is a country of immense potential. It has made significant progress to ensure the empowerment of women and achieve gender equality by introducing policies and laws to ensure women take their rightful place in society.

But that potential will remain untapped until we unleash the power in all of us to be the best we can become.

Drawing strength from the momentum created five decades ago, a foundation has been laid. We have all the power we need to change our society, our country and even world. It is in our hands.

But it needs us, to collectively continue to break the silence around issues that threaten to stifle our humanity.

It will require us to have the courage to speak out and hold on to a future free of pain and domination; the courage to look to ourselves for inspiration, and the boldness to believe that history does not have to be repeated.

I have never meet any of the women who participated in that march, but today- this August  - I am discovering what a great privilege it is to be called a young South African woman.

I am celebrating our great grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers, who raised families, had jobs, sacrificed themselves for us- “women of the 21st century” to have a better future.

This Women’s Month- I am celebrating all those women around the country and the world- known and unknown- who even today continue to fight and sacrifice for equal rights for their daughters.

I am celebrating all those women who have been victims of any kind of violence - but who get out of that situation and show us that help is available and that one does not have to be a victim but a triumphant survivor.

The  straight women, gay women, bisexual women, transgender women and all who refuse to follow conventionalisms and love to live life and follow their passions and individualism.

This August - I am celebrating all strong, passionate, humanitarian, idealistic women who give their lives to service others and make this planet a better and safe place.

This month I am celebrating the women who get up early in the morning and set the rhythm of life -the teachers, the nurses, the women in blue, the women in Parliament, in local government, in non-governmental organisations and in business- the brave single moms who are both mothers and fathers to their kids and who do an awesome job. 

I am celebrating the phenomenal working women who master the art of putting make-up on in just 60 seconds, the women breadwinners who are the rocks of their townships and rural communities, the stokvel savers for the future, the hard working subsistence farmers of the villages and the 9 to 5 heroines of offices across the country.

This August I am celebrating Imbokodo. And not forgetting the wonderful men who support these adventurous and philanthropic ideas of an equal society.

Hats off.  After all, one woman’s success should be every woman’s success. As they say, the woman is the backbone of a family, society and nation. Malibongwe! - SAnews.gov.za