South African vocalist, songwriter, producer, Claire Phillips. Picture: Supplied
South African vocalist, songwriter, producer, Claire Phillips. Picture: Supplied

Claire Phillips: Women have nothing to celebrate this Women’s Month

By Gerry Cupido Time of article published Aug 5, 2020

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2020 has been a challenging year for the human race. No race, age or sex has been unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to living in fear of the virus, too many women are dealing with daily emotional and physical abuse and rape at the hands of men. Some have been murdered.

Regardless of the challenges, there are women who have risen to hero status, by supporting and uplifting women who cannot do it for themselves.

But even those heroes need support to face their battles.

Claire Phillips isn’t just a South African vocalist, songwriter and producer, she is one of the women who offers support to the heroes and is a passionate soldier in the war against gender-based violence.

Her childhood was marred by painful experiences that would have crumbled many strong human beings and sent them into hiding. But Phillips is no ordinary artiste. She has broken boundaries and records with her undying, unrelenting and passionate determination to tell her story and others through each chord, melody and lyric she puts down.

We caught up with the talented artist and women’s rights activist to chat about her passions and what Women’s Day means to her.

You recently did an online performance that raised funds for a women’s shelter. Please tell us more about the shelter and how you got involved.

Last year, there was a women’s march to Parliament, which I attended. I heard Lucinda Evans speak and it was in that crowd of more than a thousand ladies that I felt like she was speaking directly to me.

The truth she spoke, the passion she spoke with touched me deeply. As fate would have it, I met this lioness three weeks later when I had a meeting with her. It was as if I met one of my tribe.

Her organisation was having a women’s empowerment day. This is how I became involved in her organisation, Philisa Abafazi Bethu.

The centre aids women’s development. It offers support to women who have experienced violence or who are struggling with substance abuse.

What does Women's Day mean to you?

Growing up, I was led to believe that Women’s Month and Women’s Day were special but, at this very moment, I am angry and my heart breaks.

In the past year, approximately 50 000 women were raped and murdered in South Africa, but you expect me to celebrate with pink colours and pamper vouchers. No, I don’t want to do that!

I want rapists to not be granted R500 bail. I want rapists behind bars.

I want safe spaces in the form of safe houses. Women’s Day/Month is a reminder to me of how, in the year 2020, women and girls are being murdered every day.

How will you be celebrating Women's Day this year?

I will not be celebrating, because if I am brutally honest with myself, as women in this country. we have nothing to celebrate.

Who are the women you look up to and who inspired you?

I look up to women who live their authentic truth and do so unapologetically. Lucinda Evans is a huge inspiration to me.

My partner, Tasneem Patel, who no matter what always does the right thing. I learn so much from the women in my life daily.

What's the message you would like to get through to young girls?

Little girls with dreams become women with vision. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself.

What's the best advice you’ve received from another woman?

Even when your voice trembles, speak your truth, always.

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