Commemorating Women’s Day

Sihle Bolani and a group of other amazing women she reached out to, sharing their experiences around being a woman.

I must admit, this year’s Women’s Day I have found it harder than usual to be excited or honoured to be a woman in South Africa and in the world we live in. Prior to lockdown commencing, I found out that a relative was in an abusive relationship and my brain went into #SistaHoodHour mode – I wanted to try figure out how to help, be supportive, not be part of the ‘But we didn’t know’ chorus and just feel like I was part of the ‘solution’. To this day, I say a silent prayer and hope to heaven that she is safe and that I never receive that phone call…whilst I figure out how I can help…because how do you speak to an older family member about the fact that you’re afraid for her safety?…

Fast forward to the day of Women’s Day 2020, a close friend shares that she has left her abusive marriage and is living in fear of her life from her ex. My brain goes into overdrive, I spent most of the day inboxing, messaging and calling people I knew who were in the space of gender based violence, the organisations, websites and general Googling. In this time we live in, I cannot accept that we should not do something, anything, when we are told something THAT big. We cannot, I refuse to.

The term imbokodo, I’ve seen many women refuse to carry that, just as we refuse to carry the ‘strong black woman’ title. We don’t want to be strong all the time. We do not want to accept that we as women are meant to ‘grin and bear it’ or bekezela because that is what is expected of us. We are loudly, forcefully and passionately refusing to accept the status quo. There are men, and women who want us to – who expect us to – and we’re choosing otherwise because we want a different reality of ourselves, our peers and for the generations that follow ours.

Team Bekezela – no thank you.

Suffer in silence – no, I will speak up in my own way

Accept the cards I have been dealt – no, I am worthy of more and I am learning to create what it is I wish to have as my reality

…my hope is that the conversations I have with my daughter, G-d willing, are about some of the things that need to be brought into the light, that need to be challenged, changed for the better, faced and overcome. It certainly will not be easy but it is necessary.

…my hope is that in years to come, Women’s Day is truly about remembering what has been done for us by previous generations, what we would have done to change things for the future generations, and that in time, a woman and girl can really be safe in every environment that they are in.

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