National Women’s Day, 9 August 2019
‘The day marks the Women’s March to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956. On that day up to 20 000 women of all races, class and religious persuasions protested against the extension of Pass Laws. The march was a turning point in the role of women in the struggle for freedom and our society at large’ (gov.za/womensmonth2019)
Fast forward and women continue making changes.
We cannot be prouder than to celebrate the achievements of Thuli Mandonsela; our former Public Protector who is tackling Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for sanitary products for young girls. Wendy Luhabe founder of Bridging the Gap, which empowers previously disadvantaged people; especially women. Nomzamo Mbatha who uses her star power to help refugees and is an ambassador for Mental Health, helping disadvantaged families and schools. Basetsana Kumalo who’s foundation supports orphaned children, especially those who have lost parents to HIV and AIDS related illnesses and NGO’s such as Women 4 Women (Women4Women.co.za) focused on female empowerment and community upliftment; where their ‘main goal is to improve the lives of the less fortunate and previously disadvantaged women of South Africa by providing skills, training and mentorship’. Co-Founder Karen of Community Hours (communityhours.co.za) encourages community effectiveness by ‘changing the world one hour at a time’, whereby community service done by teens, parents, teachers, schools, active citizens and accredited non-profit organisations supports a wide range of community based projects.
Women are breaking the mould.
Take a look at Christine Ramon named South Africa’s CFO of the year 2018, becoming the first woman to take the award home, an inspiring woman in the mining and metal industry. Major Mandisa Mfeka, the world’s first Black African female fighter pilot, Caster Semenya, named the 2018 most influential South African by international rating firm Avance Media; being the first female to take the prize.
Nicole Crampton from Entrepreneur, wrote ‘The Small Enterprise development Agency (SEDA) noted that 72% of micro-enterprises and 40% of small enterprises are currently owned by women.’ While another article headlines ‘Watch List: 50 Top SA Business Women to Watch’ (entrepreneur.com,February 27, 2019)
Woman are on the rise.
However, at home and across the globe the plight for women and their rights continues. Hashtag BalanceforBetter encourages women to forge a more gender-balanced world by celebrating women’s achievements and raising awareness against bias. Nasrin Sotoudeh’s vision is to create a society free of violence against women, where women and children enjoy their full human rights (masimanyane.org.za) Women for Women International supports women in countries affected by conflict and war and state that “In order to make lasting change, women need the skills and resources to build self-confidence, understand their rights, earn an income, and gain the respect of their family and community” (WomenforWomen.org)
We couldn’t agree more.
By leading the way like Natalie Isaacs, the founder of 1 Million Women (1MillionWomen.com.au) who is addressing and encouraging women and girls from every corner of the planet to build a lifestyle revolution to fight the climate crisis (1MillionWomen.com.au) to Malala Yousafzai who teaches us the importance of forgiveness; Michelle Obama who relates to us about overcoming struggles; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becoming the youngest woman to ever serve in US Congress to Greta Thunberg the Swedish 15 year old activist protesting climate change, women are changing the world.
The dictionary says a woman is ‘An adult female human’ but we know a woman is so much more than that. Women are mothers, wives, daughters, entrepreneurs, givers, supporters, carers, teachers, leaders and influencers and in honour of Women’s Month, August 2019, let us honour and thank all the women around the globe, for their courage, support and willingness to make a difference, and let us empower and encourage whomever we meet on this journey, knowing that like the women who came before us, we too, can make a difference.
You are a woman.
You are the fire!
You are all conquering.
You are all powerful!
You are Supreme!
You were not born to be a mere beauty queen!!
Excerpt by Avijeet Das