What happened in 1956, 9 August-exactly? A group of women Lilian Masediba Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, and Sophie Williams did something phenomenal in the time where the nation was divided and at war over race, they rubbished race and come together to overcome a common problem. Gender inequality.
They stood up for themselves and decided that we will not be second best to men any longer, we will not be looked down on or undermined because we are women. They decided that they have equal rights and deserved the same opportunities as men. They risked their lives to be heard. Fast forward years later in 2019, have we really achieved gender equality?
In this article, I will share my viewpoint on how African women live in South Africa. Kickstarting it with the positives. Women can get an education to the highest level and still get employed. I am seeing more women in professional career positions than in the past. I am being exposed to more women owning assets like cars, homes doing it independently.
We are doing all these great achievements however no matter how much we achieve and level up there is this face from a society that refuses to believe we have done it, or we have come this far.
I see young black women who have proved themselves and achieved beyond measure and still society refuses to acknowledge them or even refuse to believe they did it by themselves without them having to sell themselves for the opportunities.
I see black women being undermined, disrespected and sexualized by men and society alike all the time in workplaces, in public, families, from corporations and sometimes even among people we look up to and not much is done to stop this. Sexual molestation by male family members is a familiar story among women but it is viewed in normal light and standing up for yourself as a young black woman is being seen as being dramatic!
I have found that there is little to no protection for women in this country and I am yet to see the “Wathint’ abafazi, Wathint’ imbokodo” come fiercely to face this country as it once did in the past with Lilian Ngoyi and other women alike.
As a young black woman, I am constantly told that I am not important, I should sit down and shut up, I am constantly expected to fix how I look to fit into the perfect image of the male gaze. I am not taken seriously when I am doing big things.
The true change that I have seen to come to women is women like Lillian Ngoyi who decided “I am not what you say I am”. Women who change their narrative to “I am worthy” and are so sold in their truth so much that the world criticism or validation is on the same level to them-it holds no water. Women who do the work inside out.
Who are not afraid to live their lives on their terms, women who create their own opportunities when they aren’t any. Women who define themselves and walk away when they are not being respected. Now that’s Woman’s Day! While we are waiting for South Africa and the rest of the world to get their act together when it comes to respecting women and acknowledging them and their capabilities.
Women like Lillian Ngoyi have created a lane for themselves where they are not waiting for anyone’s permission. They are in charge. In control. Spot on and validate themselves.
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Written by: Thabile Jaku