~ The following viewpoint is written by Duduzile Tshabalala-Dhlamini, a political activist and chairperson of Inyanda Institute.
There’s a Sesotho proverb that says, “mosadi o tshwara thipa ka bohaleng.” The direct translation of this in English is, a woman holds the knife around its sharp edges.
Used widely as a figure of speech to describe the pain and misery of being a woman in a predominantly patriarchal and misogynistic society, this proverb perfectly characterizes the shape, psyche and social set-up of a nation that is battling the demon of inequality.
Black women are the most affected by this scourge. From domestic violence to workplace sexual harassment, there is also so much in between that that affects women on a daily basis, and how they manage to carry on is a miracle in itself.
According to a 2015 World Health Organization report, around 60,000 women and children in South Africa are victims of domestic violence. Further Data also says about 40% of men in South Africa have been violent towards their partners, with one in four of these having committed sexual crimes.
Even on the economic front, the situation remains dire. The median income for Black women is R2700. They are the lowest in the food pyramid, to an extent that one white CEO earns as much as 461 Black women.
On this women’s month, particularly today, I want us to reflect on the struggles that black women face, the struggles that come from a number of sources ranging from political, economic, psychological, economic, physical, material and medical challenges. Our precious women have it the hardest and yet society expects them to always show up and play their part.
Without women, society will cease to exist. Nature, by itself, is feminine. The feminine energy is the driving force that governs this universe. The remarkable strength of women is powerful beyond measure.
In our politics, women representation has been improving, albeit at a slow pace. Some impressive strides have been taken from 1994 up to the present moment to ensure greater participation of women in political decision-making processes and governance.
Without the presence of a woman, a house is not a home. This we know very well. As to why we’re not applying it at a national level in regards to the political landscape – it is puzzling. If women occupied senior positions in government, I doubt we’d have unnecessary, high levels of poverty and unemployment, and all of these social problems that affect us daily in various forms of structural violence.
This is because women are nurturers.
In an interview with the popular online show, “Podcast and Chill with Mac G”, Kwaito superstar Zola mentioned something very profound. He said the mistake that Apartheid lawmakers made was to undermine the influence of sober, Black women. And that ultimately, it was them who brought the evil racist regime to its knees since they had to raise children (both revolutionaries and gangsters) in the absence of their fathers and that they stood strong and faced the vicious system head on.
Women must claim their rightful place as leaders in the society. We can no longer afford to put them in the backseat while things descend into chaos. The feminine energy is needed now more than ever to nurture and soothe our society.
On this Women’s Day, may we remember the brave and remarkable women who marched to the Union Building in 1956, protesting against the illegal and immoral pass laws.
Their bravery showed the racist apartheid regime that they were willing to do whatever is necessary to protect their families and communities. They displayed remarkable strength in the face of great adversity and hardships.
Let us create a world in which women are safe and enjoy the full rights of being human beings in a just and egalitarian society.
One of my dreams is to see a woman taking a nap in a public park without the fear of being kidnapped, or for a woman to leave the club at 3am in the morning and walk home safely.
A woman must be able to walk in the streets without being harassed by anybody. A woman must earn a decent amount of money and work place sexism must be a thing of the past.
These are the things we need to ponder on, on this women’s day. A better world for all is what we need; women included!