August is Woman’s Month in South Africa. We don’t only celebrate Woman’s Day – we dedicate an entire month to Women. Today is Women’s Day. And to be honest, I am feeling frustrated. I am going to go on a bit of a rant in this post; and if you’re not up for it, I’ll understand. Here it is: today is not Mother’s Day. It is not Girlfriend Day. It is not a day for celebrating women with flowers and tea-parties. No. In fact, I am moderately offended by the ‘cute’ messages that have been sent to me, that I have seen on facebook, and that I have heard delivered on the talk ratio. You know the one’s – if you Google ‘Women’s Day images’. All that popular, generic garbage.
Today is not a day for wishy-washy sentiment. Today is national Women’s Day. The public need to educate themselves, and particularly women. Today, and the entire month of August, is dedicated to shining a light on issues related to gender equality – or should we say – gender inequality. A day dedicated to understanding what more we can do to reduce gender-based-violence. A day to highlight conscious and unconscious biases about women – in their homes, in their communities, and in their workplaces. A day to draw attention to policies and processes which have no place in today’s society. A society where women and girls can be whomever they want to be. They can be successful Mother’s and have exceptional careers. They can be the families primary breadwinner and bake cupcakes for school. They deserve their place at ‘the table’. They deserve to be heard, just as you’d hear the men in the room. They deserve respect. The kind of respect that allows them to go where they want to, when they want to, with whom they want to – without risk of being cat-called, assaulted, raped or worse.
I agree that we must celebrate women, and we must recognise progress; but we must not be naive. Gender based issues remain prevalent in every aspect of our lives. Every day of our lives. Today should be about starting a conversation about these issues, reflecting on these issues, educating oneself on these issues; and ideally setting into a motion actions which will make a difference so that our daughter’s and son’s grow up to be respectful, responsible, open-minded, awesome adults.
So if you sent me a fluffy, cute message wishing me a lovely Women’s Day: thanks, but no thanks. We have work to do people. And it starts with you.
Drakensburg, South Africa. Photos taken by Alison