Twenty years into democracy and being a woman in South Africa today, is still as challenging as it was back in 1956.
No, we don’t have to march for the revocation of pass laws. But we do have to take a stand against illiteracy, unemployment, domestic and sexual violence and HIV/AIDS, which severely affect women.
I am a privileged youth, I know nothing about the struggle and I’m not spending nights cleaning bruises left by my abusive partner. But I am a woman of this nation.
I was raised by women from the generations who were restricted by Apartheid laws. I live and work in a society where women are uneducated and unemployed; HIV infected and who are victims of violence. I can’t look away and live my “perfect life”. Those women make me. I make those women. Their problems are my problems.
All women are valuable to every society.
Sure I could list a number of phenomenal women whose lives have impacted the world and changed the course of history. Marie Curie, Maya Angelou, Aung Sung Suu Kyi and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have inspired generations. What about the woman begging on the street? Does she inspire and motivate in the same way?
The answer is: All women are valuable to every society. The women we deem to be of less importance are still valuable. We don’t know the value we carry. We forget that we are not valuable for the things we do. We are valuable because of who we are.
Things are already so unequal. Women shouldn’t have to still be unequal amongst each other. For those of us who are empowered to make a change, we should shift that change in their direction. Uplift them and unlock their potential.
We should care about solving these problems because our generation is accountable for the mark we leave on the world.
Future generations of women need a benchmark from which to move forward. We don’t carry pass books, so future generations shouldn’t have to still deal with our current struggles.
Others before us created paths for our progress. Which paths will future generations take? Women will develop based on the progress we leave for them to inherit.