The recent mauling of women lovers by chauvinist male security guards brought to mind an appropriate observation by American activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Analysing the socio-economic situation of women more than 90 years ago, Gilman observed that a woman “is feminine more than enough, as man is masculine more than enough; but She is not human as He is human”.
This rude reminder of the less-than-human status allocated to women by chauvinist men at the Carlton Centre in Joburg became clear as we prepared to celebrate the 56th anniversary of the women’s march to the then citadel of apartheid, Pretoria, in 1956.
e should be celebrating with pride the women’s struggle and the fight for emancipation. But alas, new pressing and alarming challenges have reared their ugly heads to further complicate the problems that we face as a country.
They include the scourges of crime, teenage pregnancy and rape of women and children, including those with mental and physical disabilities. These acts threaten to reduce our democracy and women’s struggles to an empty shell for millions.
As women we need to ask ourselves, have we not reproduced strong and brave women to contend with the current ills that we find our country facing? When are we going to stand together and say enough is enough and take charge of making our SA the best place?
Violent crimes such as sexual and domestic abuse, both reported and unreported, seem to continue to rise in Gauteng.
The Gauteng Department of Community Safety conducts a number of crime awareness roadshows. Each police station produces its own report that outlines the issues within its precinct. In each of the areas in which the roadshow has taken place, rape is a common denominator. This then poses the question, is this how we want to celebrate women? What do these abusive men take women for?
It is, however, heartening to observe initiatives such as Men As Safety Promoters attempt to fight the scourge of gender-based violence.
As we celebrate Women’s Month, we must reflect on the kind of societal outlook we wish for in the next decade. Upon imagining that, reflect on the contribution that we have made to the generations to come. Let us all make a positive impact no matter the size.
l Faith Mazibuko is the MEC for Community Safety in Gauteng