I think we can officially start the countdown to the annual celebration of women in South Africa. This year, we can look back at this day with amazement. We have seen so many women come out to march for their rights and their voices. Women are running for office in record numbers. There has been a movement to put more women in leadership positions globally. And, a new generation of girls is coming up with a rightful expectation of getting equal treatment, and the same opportunities as boys. It’s been amazing to see how far we’ve come. But there’s still much work to be done. Nevertheless, here, are some ways to celebrate this Women’s Day.
What Women’s Day Means to Me
When I was in middle school, I never imagined a day when girls could talk about a plethora of topics as freely as boys could (yes, it’s the same now too). I wasn’t confident in my views and opinions as a kid, so I never had the confidence to stand up for them. I had no idea that I would eventually pursue a career in Health and Safety or entrepreneurship, and I can’t even imagine how different my life would be had I heard about feminism, or simply known it existed, at the age of 10.
At that age, I didn’t even know that feminism was a movement. I didn’t know that I could discuss politics or my faith as openly as I can now. I certainly wouldn’t have dreamt of being the head of health and safety in a big company. In middle school, my gender meant that I wasn’t normal and I could never achieve what boys could.
Yes, it’s important to recognize the struggles faced by South African women. Women across the nation are still silenced, oppressed, and pushed to the background, where they are largely forgotten. We are still being sexually harassed in the media and online, sexually assaulted on the streets, and told that we must be the nurturing caretakers of our families, without ever being allowed to have dreams or aspirations.
Our bodies are still held captive in places like sweatshops and many of us don’t even have the freedom to dress in the way we wish. We are still being devalued when it comes to earning a living, equal pay, access to credit, and employment opportunities. Our voices are still not heard when it comes to public policy issues such as affordable housing.
Celebrating Women’s Day in South Africa serves as a call to action. Every year it seems that issues women face are addressed in different ways. In the past, issues such as women’s suffrage, reproductive rights, and equal pay have focused on putting more women into leadership positions and enacting change. Recently, however, we have seen a trend towards more activism around issues of gender-based violence and gender inequality.
Now, I don’t think there’s a “correct” way to celebrate this day. If you want to do something on your own that will inspire others, that’s cool too. Personally, my favorite way to celebrate is to spend time volunteering with a nonprofit that fights for women’s rights and equality, or just giving thanks to great women who have impacted my life greatly, and trying to make their lives easier by doing some small tasks for them.
Celebrating Women’s Day in South Africa
Many different organizations have planned rallies, events, and reenactments for Women’s Day. You can look for those on Facebook, in local media, or search #WomensDay using Google.
How Can I Participate?
Put on your headphones, turn on your favorite playlists, and take a moment to truly listen to what women have to say. Do some research about South African female leaders, or give back in your way by helping to make a change for girls in need through charity work. Whether you feel motivated by activism or just love making personal care products, there are tons of options for you to make a difference in women’s lives without having to buy another gift. Find out how you can be involved in making a positive change, donate your old clothes to a women’s shelter, or volunteer your time.
Other ways you can participate include:
- Understanding that your voice is your power. Have you realized this yet? When you have an opinion, you are capable of making a difference. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Do it. Don’t hold back.
- Standing up as a female leader in your community. It’s not enough to just say you’re a feminist. Take action to show that you value the women who are supporting you. Seek out opportunities to be a leader in your circle.
- Using your voice to educate your peers about women’s rights. It’s easy to assume other people know what you know. You have access to the internet, after all. You have access to the news. But others may not.
- Educating and inspiring others. Women face some of the highest rates of sexual violence and harassment. Encourage your friends to stand up for themselves. If you see something, say something.
What Is the Future for Me as A Woman?
I want to have my dream career in my 30s. I want to increase the number of qualifications I have. I want to achieve the body size and weight I’m working towards. I want to love and embrace every part of me and accept the skin I am in. I want the same opportunities that men have. I want control over my sexuality, my children, and every part of my life. This is the future I want. I have always known that my future is up to me and I am privileged to have that freedom.
We must raise our voices and be counted, so we can create safe spaces where women and children of all backgrounds feel like they belong and can contribute. Let’s continue to speak up about sexual violence and harassment so we can create a world where no one has to experience it.
Women are making their voices heard this Women’s Day and, although I am a grown woman, this Women’s Day will be my day to honor women who have influenced me. My mother, who stood by my side during the difficulties of adolescence and supported me as a woman. My amazing aunties influenced me to see girls as important and to believe I was equal to boys. The three women I now call my parents, who loved me unconditionally, and never discouraged my love for studying and work. My mother-in-law and her amazing attitude towards me as I married a man 10 years older than me and with five children. And so many women in my family and in my life who gave me such an amazing opportunity to work with them and get to know them better.
How will you honor women this Women’s Day?
Article by: Ntombizodwa Setsoai
A well-versed Project Manager, Freelance Writer, and New Mom. She loves to share tips and advice on marketing, blogging, SEO, and online entrepreneurship. You can read more of her stuff here: (Better Mindset)