Why we're not 'celebrating' #WomensMonth this year
Last week Onica Makwakwa of #TheTotalShutdown campaign said to me that women have nothing to celebrate this Women's Month when we are dying at the rate that we are, and it stuck with me.
Because we are mostly women on IOL's staff, we tend to go big during Women's Month, celebrating women achievers, finding the stories of women who inspire us and just revelling in how absolutely fabulous it is to be a woman.
But not this year. This year we are going dark.
This year we are in mourning, for all the women who did not get a chance to achieve all they dreamed of because their lives were cut short, who did not think being a woman was so fabulous because they lived - and died - in fear.
Their brutal deaths have "inspired" us to tell their stories again so that we don't forget that for a woman in South Africa death lurks around every corner and freedom is still coming.
So our call went out across the newsroom. Give us the names of femicide victims so that we can memorialise one a day for the 31 days of August.
Shockingly, sadly, the names came fast, one after the other, too many for only 31 days. The woman found in the wheelie bin, the woman whose body was found in the communal toilets in Khayelitsha, the woman whose burnt body was found in the boot of her car, Karabo Mokoena killed by her ex-boyfriend, who then dumped her body in a ditch and set her alight, Reeva Steenkamp, Anene Booysen, Zolile Khumalo and on and on.
How do we celebrate when a woman is murdered every 4 hours in South Africa a nd at least half of these women die at the hands of their intimate partners (as verified by Africa Check)?
This time we don't. We mourn and remember.
But we will also look for ways to make things better. Starting with some of us joining in #TheTotalShutdown march to show that we also say enough is enough and will use our voice to prioritise the battle against gender-based violence.
We will also use this platform to amplify the voices and causes of women who are at the forefront of this battle.
Women in South Africa have a history of standing together against injustice. Let's stand together like they did in 1956, in the hope that one day we can celebrate Women's Month again.