The Humanization of Black Women – By Nonkululeko Kubheka

The Humanization of Black Women

By: Nonkululeko Kubheka

The humanization of black women is an ongoing struggle that requires collective involvement from all members of society. While this has seen many transformations over the years that are seen as positive indications of the integration of women, it is not taking shape at a rate that will promote equal representation of women throughout all sectors of their communities.

International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8th, and while there is relevance for events that are hosted to commemorate such days, the significance seems fairly short-lived. South Africa celebrates National Women’s Day on the 9th of August each year, although the struggles confronting women are a daily reality that shouldn’t be the focus for a single day. While International Women’s Day provides a platform for awareness, the issues facing women need to be addressed daily to develop more practical solutions.

It becomes particularly important for ordinary individuals to raise awareness of the issues that women face. The problems confronting women in South Africa are not isolated from those faced by women across the world, and this requires collective involvement not only from women but by men as well. Without becoming aware of the challenges faced by women, most men consider it futile for them to become involved in “women’s issues,” often forgetting that they too were once housed within a woman’s body.

Not only do we need to get men involved, but young girls and boys also need to become part of these conversations so they realise what confronts women and how they can also become the change drivers for a different future that they will grow up into. Something that is easily overlooked is how the continuation of the marginalisation of women only sees the continuation of this in younger generations, as this becomes an acceptable norm from what they witness.

Thomas Sankara’s 2007 book titled Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle raises pertinent points that we still witness an oversight of, and some of these include:

  • The continuous praise that men who defend their countries get, while most women are bound to household work that limits them from exploring what lies beyond the confines of their homes.
  • While slavery might have been abolished, the subjugation of women is still evident in society through their lack of recognition, inclusion, or lack of humanization.
  • Women aren’t enjoying full liberation, and this creates a barrier for the challenges they confront to be acknowledged.
  • The lack of freedom also deprives women of having and developing their self-identity, and this tends to impact their self-worth and hinders their ability to accept who they are and continuously try to forge an unrealistic image of themselves that sees them trying to fit into the societal mould of how women should be.
  • With a grave lack of access to education for most African women, it becomes hard for them to become aware of the power they have to bring change from anywhere they find themselves if they learn to use their voice—which is something that is often suppressed.
  • The need to dominate over others was not only limited to the oppressive systems but has been inherited by patriarchal systems that oppose matriarchy.

Society’s acknowledgement of women doesn’t need to be limited to a single day, but it needs to form part of our daily conversations since this is how solutions will also materialize. When looking at women in rural areas, for instance, you consider how they are still subjected to forced marriages, the inability to own property without a male counterpart, how forced marriages are still in place, and in worst cases, these women are often turned into the property of abusive partners they fear leaving because of the uncertainty of who they will turn to or if anyone will believe them.

A cycle of violence against women is evident in a large number of cases of rape, abduction, and domestic abuse. This has seen a surge in mounting concerns over the safety of women, especially where law enforcement isn’t as actively involved as they should be. If women aren’t safe in their homes, where else should this safety be sought? Chapter Two of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa has a provision under Section 12 that pertains to freedom and security of the person, but without any repercussions being applied to those who continue to infringe on the equality and dignity of women, this also imposes on their human right to life.

The issue of non-acceptance also extends to the homosexual community, which faces subjugation and alienation from society. The sexual minority that homosexuals form part of tends to see their alienation from societies that are traditionally and culturally rigid, where beliefs are upheld to ensure that they are belittled or demonized for choosing to identify in a way that suits them.

Where does this place their equality, if it is being deemed as an act worth punishment, simply because it doesn’t relate to what everyone else believes to be right? The lack of consideration for the implications on individuals who are victims of non-acceptance raises concerns over whether there is sufficient engagement on such issues or if ignorance continues to blind our societies.

Society needs to acknowledge the struggles of women and work towards finding solutions. It is only when women stop being treated as subordinates, but as equal participants in driving the change we wish to see in an equal society, that we will finally see the humanization of black women.


About the author:

Nonkululeko Kubheka is a professional, academic, and creative writer, who is passionate about topics relating to leadership in Africa, decoloniality, African spirituality, socioeconomic conditions, and mental health. She is a member of the Activate! Writer’s Hub 2023 cohort, and her writing experience dates as far back as 2012, where she has been freelancing as a professional writer since 2021.

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