By: Zamayirha PeterWomen’s Month presents a great opportunity to highlight the great strides women in this country have made to realise democracy. Coming from a history where they had limitations to their movement and ability to participate in civic matters by virtue of their gender.
It’s been more than 67 years since more than 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women – A system meant to control women, the protest highlighted an extended struggle waged against the patriarchal, and classist and racist society women had to find themselves through.
In democratic South Africa, women still are on the receiving end of staggering inequality, income gap as well as crimes such as gender-based violence and rape. While we look at the 2023 Women’s Month and particularly the 9th of August as a moment to honour women, dynamic interventions beyond women’s conferences, and high teas should play a critical part in how we respond to this month.
The theme for 2023 is “Women’s Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment: Building Back Better for Women’s Improved Resilience”. It must be highlighted that will not realise the liberation of our society absent from women feeling and living completely free. This requires integration across the gender spectrum, class, and racial lines, consistent with the 1956 protest.
The concept of Generation Equality is a global campaign that links South Africa to global efforts as reflected by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to achieve gender equality by 2030.
Women’s Month is a tribute not only to the thousands of women who marched to the union buildings but an opportunity to highlight their continued legacy as demonstrated through the young women in the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers youth network.
Asia Booysen (25), is a 2017 activator based in Kwazulu Natal, in KwaMashu and Newlands. This women’s month, she is organizing the ‘This Women Empowerment Hike’ – which is inspired by Women’s Month. Her objective is to encourage women to get active and actively address the societal challenges women face.
“The Women Empowerment Hike aims to connect young girls and self-made, established women to engage in essential dialogue. Through this dialogue, topics such as independence, unrealistic beauty standards, gender inequality, the influence of social media, toxic gender stereotypes, safe sex practices and the makings of an influential woman, will be addressed.”
Through the hike, Asia hopes to link young girls from previously disadvantaged communities with women excelling in their respective careers. To impart vital advice, encourage, inspire and share stories.
“Not only is this a challenge to tackle and overcome the mountains during the hike. But, to
tackle and address the challenges women encounter in the 21st century.”
Reflecting on the preparations, Asia says it has received positive support.
“The Support for a Women’s Empowerment Hike has been positive. It is a different approach to engaging in fundamental dialogue. Whereby, it is an opportunity for women to break away from sitting down at a conference and listening to speakers, it’s an invite to talk about women’s empowerment. Instead, this Women’s Empowerment Hike challenges women to swap their heels for takkies and actively address important issues faced by women.
Stumbling blocks in Asia’s efforts have included the commitment from public taxis in KwaMashu and Newlands.
“I reached out to public taxis to request they provide transportation for the young girls to the
hike, on the 12th of August. This has proven to be challenging, as the public taxis are heavily male-dominated and have been very dismissive of providing any assistance”.
“Nonetheless, I am determined to find a way and the Women’s Empowerment Hike shall not be stopped”, she adds.
Asia hopes the hike will leave the ladies feeling revived, rejuvenated, and ignited.
“I hope through the sharing of stories and experiences the ladies can learn from each other. Thereby, encouraging continuous growth, and motivating the ladies to never limit themselves and continue to break societal barriers. The goal is to light new ideologies and open the minds of young ladies. To become cognisant of the importance of having a voice as a young woman, finding and building confidence, as well as being ambitious, goal driven and having dreams.”
Every cause usually is accompanied by a personal story that encourages one when stumbling blocks arise. For Asia, her passion for women and young girls stems from her lack of women role models.
“When I was a child. I was raised by a single father and had an absent mother. My father instilled in me the importance of being independent, making good decisions, and being career-driven”
“I have seen how easily young girls from previously disadvantaged communities are preyed upon. Whereby, many of these young girls found themselves in desperate situations because of the lack of education or opportunities. For instance, these young girls may find themselves trapped in abusive or oppressive relationships for the sake of survival”.
“It is these outdated ideologies of the roles and expectations of women in society that fuel my passion. It is about time that more of our young girls are inventors, billionaires, CEOs, and soon presidents over our African land”, she adds.
For Asia, the month of August furthermore presents a time to acknowledge and remind women of their strength, resilience, power, influence, and role in society.
“Moreover, August draws focus on the challenges women still face, such as oppression, discrimination, domestic violence, inequality, education for girls, and so forth. Whereby, this month is an opportunity to connect as women, uplift each other and learn from our exceptional women pioneers, leaders, and activists who have fought for the liberation of women.”
The Women’s Empowerment Hike is an open invitation and will take place on Saturday, the 12th of August at the Everton Conservancy starting at 6 a.m.
To play your part and support Asia reach her on:
Cell: +27 61 202 5676
Follow NPO Smile on Foundation on Instagram at _smileonfoundation_