South African Women’s Month
South African Women’s Month
August 2019 has been very productive for World Merit South Africa since it is Women’s Month in their country! We are very proud to highlight these reports from Emmanuelle Tshala and Sinolonwabo Xhonti who have so brilliantly expressed the issues women are facing in their country and presented many amazing projects World Merit South Africa have put together to tackle these issues.
In South Africa, August is widely known as women’s month. This is a month where attention is drawn to the plight of women in this country and various campaigns are launched in order to further the female agenda.
Like in many other parts of the world, women in South Africa are a significantly marginalized group. This marginalization presents itself in various forms such as high rates of gender-based violence, income inequality, poor access to positions of power and lack of access to basic needs such as sanitary towels. Although this all paints a grim picture for the state of women in South Africa, organizations like World Merit are putting in great amounts of time and effort to alleviate South African women of the plight that comes with just being women.
These initiatives include the “Know your body” campaign as well as the Sanitary towel drive, coordinated by the Lead Advocate for Gender Equality (SDG5). These campaigns are aimed at providing young women – in high school and disadvantaged communities- with sanitary towels and invaluable knowledge about their bodies that they would not learn elsewhere. Beyond this, there have been women’s marches around the country that make a call for the rights of women to be recognized by the government and like institutions. There have also been a plethora of social media campaigns that have brought awareness to issues pertaining to women.
Women’s month is an amazing month in South Africa because women are celebrated, heard and most importantly united. It is a month where organizations like World Merit can have significant reach and impact. That being said, one month is not enough. Women ought to be revered in this manner every month of the year and this is a goal that World Merit South Africa along with Lead Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5 and 10 aim to achieve.
We say ‘Wathint' Abafazi, Wathint' Imbokodo' which translates to, ‘you strike the women, you strike the rock.’ These words from the famous resistance song have come to symbolise the courage and strength expressed at the Women's March of 1956
Prepared by: Emmanuelle Tshala
Lead Advocate SDG 10: Cape Town Local Council
World Merit South Africa
The Sanitary towel drive will take place on the 13th of September and surely will impact many women and girls in their community. World Merit South Africa is doing a fantastic job campaigning for women’s rights and providing sanitary products and education, nevertheless, as the next report will explain, there still is not enough being done to support women and the dangers they can face in the country.
In a country that has seen 25 years of democracy and equal rights for all, it is important to ask the question “where have we failed our women and girls?” Over the past few years, the country has seen a rise in femicide and gender-based violence statistics. Every year, the month of August is dedicated to women, however, with the scourge of violence faced by South African women, is one month enough to address the changes that are necessary to tackle these sometimes, life and death issues? There must be immediate action to create more solutions and to make changes to the system.
This year the Ministry of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities launched a gender equality campaign under the theme “25 Years of Democracy: Growing South Africa Together for Women's Emancipation”. This campaign is aimed towards addressing the issues faced by South African women. It has opened a platform of engagement, through social media, for women using the hashtag #HEARMETOO. This is a great way of opening a platform for advocacy by bringing forward the experiences of South African women. The campaign is also creating a space for women to exercise their basic rights and their freedom of expression. This can also be a space where women draw courage from each other and find ways to overcome the inequalities they face on a daily basis. Equally important, is the exposure South African men get from women’s engagement on social media platforms.
It is important, when faced with questions about where we failed, to keep our minds open to the changes and efforts given to address the inequalities and violence faced by women. The struggle is not for the government alone but also for us in the Non-Governmental Organizations sector. We need to integrate our efforts to create a force that will change the current circumstances of women. In this journey, we (the NGO sector) are needed to mobilise, advocate, educate and deliver services that will ensure the emancipation of South African women. We need to be the social watchdogs in our communities to effect change.
Lead Advocate SDG 5: Cape Town Local Council, World Merit South Africa
We hope Women’s month 2020 will be just as successful and empowering. As a global community, we must recognise this month to bring global attention and create change. World Merit looks forward to creating a world where women can feel supported and protected every month of the year, everywhere.
Together, we can bring the change we want in our country and beyond- starting with our local communities.