Andie Miller - 2011-08-11 Untitled Document
Statistics show that women and children (especially female children) in South Africa endure more abuse of human rights than any other individuals in this country. Despite the lofty maxims of our Constitution proclaiming equal rights for women, giving them respect and allowing them to be as safe as their male counterparts seems like a far-off dream to many women in this country. Have we really come so far from the 1800s when philosophers like Jean Jacques Rousseau declared that a woman should never for a moment “feel herself independent, that she should be governed by fear to exercise her natural cunning and be made a coquettish slave in order to render her a more alluring object of desire, a sweeter companion to man, whenever he chooses to relax himself”? There have been huge strides forward for women, but the South African statistics for child and women abuse alone make me believe that we still have a very long way to go. So during this month, when women are considered more than at any other time of the year, I asked a number of South African women to share their aspirations for their peers.
– Janet van Eeden
Karen Jennings, writer and editor
If you look back at the history of National Women’s Day, at what drove 20 000 women to march against the pass laws in 1956, it is impossible not to be impressed by their strength – the strength of their conviction, and the strength of their determination to stand up and say: This is wrong, you are wrong. While we no longer live under a system corrupted by racial segregation, we are faced daily with a society driven by inequality and injustice. What I wish for the women of South Africa is the strength and conviction to come together and to stand up in front of a political and economic system that has all but forgotten the poor – to stand up and say: This is wrong, you are wrong.
Sarah Frost, editor and poet
I would like for South African women to be able to trust their voices and use them, and to be listened to respectfully.
Karen Lazar, English educator and teacher trainer
My wish for all women, but especially women with disabilities, is that they become visible to society in all their fullness as workers and professionals, as mothers and daughters, as sexual partners (since disabled women are often desexualised in the eyes of the world).
Isabella Morris, mother and writer
My hope is that women in South Africa will support their sisters who continue to mother for a second and third time as their children and grandchildren continue to die of HIV/Aids.
Andie Miller, author of Slow Motion: stories about walking
I look forward to the day when women can walk freely and safely in the streets. Preferably after dark as well, though right now I would settle for daylight hours; alone, anywhere, no matter what her sexual preference.
Judy Croome, author, visionary and metaphysical women's fiction
In this month of celebrating the power of women, my hope for the women of South Africa is that we come to recognise that to reach our full potential as both individuals and women we need to learn that the only power worth having is not power over others, but the inner power which springs from the ability to feel compassion for others, despite our own wounds and fears.
Gillian Schutte, award-winning independent filmmaker, writer and social justice activist
Between the insidious white liberal patriarchal discourse, perpetuated by those who claim to be in crisis but still hold the power while hiding behind the endless newspaper headlines hinting at black irrationality, and the empty sloganeering of black male patriarchy that hides behind white supremacy, refusing to reflect on its own form of misogyny, there is definitely a crisis of masculinities in South Africa. Sadly, this translates into a major crisis for South African women, because they are still the victims of male arrogance, confusion and self-esteem issues. This plays out in mental, emotional and physical forms of violence, in the corporate world, in academic institutions, in the media, in our homes and in public. Men must get over the blame game in order to progress beyond this testosterone-bound stagnation to make way for change and authentic transformation, and women must transcend these man-made social and class constructs in order to unite and fight this patriarchy on all fronts. When women from all walks of life are genuinely part of the public discourse we will begin to witness the radical transformation of societies.
Pippa Jazmine Dyer, writer, actor, director, filmmaker and entrepreneur
I am always staggered at how little respect men have for my brain! Then I look around me and I notice other women battling through the same dichotomies. I have been fortunate enough to have been mentored recently in a film-writing workshop by two remarkable women: Thandi Brewer and Julie Hall. So why is it that they are not heading up organisations like the NFVF, Script Institute, like-minded organisations, when they are clearly heads and shoulders above the rest of the men and women that are their counterparts? However bashful they might be about my stating this, it's actually true. But viva to the NFVF for electing Karen Son as their new CEO. However, having to wait seven months (yes, seven) for her to be inducted, one has to ask the question: Are they really serious about it? And for me? Well, I'm still battling to be heard, like a lot of us women ... So have things really changed? Are things changing around us? I think not. Deepest aspirations for myself and the rest of the women in this world? Rise above ... Just rise above ...
Wini Hartzenberg, mother, wife, writer
Teach yourselves these things, and teach your children a deep and abiding sense of responsibility. Take responsibility for your lives, for your physical health. Don’t engage in behaviour which can lead to diseases. For your mental health, practise ethical living. Have integrity. Stand up for what you believe in. For your wealth, save something every month, even if it’s just a little. For the workplace, be on time and develop the will to be productive. Learn to love your work. For other people, respect them, especially if they’re different from you. Take a little time to think about their life walk. It may be much harder than yours. For the country, respect the laws and regulations. They’re there to guarantee freedom to live in a good, clean, well-run world. Don’t litter. Don’t waste. Don’t destroy things. Don’t let other people destroy things. Just imagine how marvellous our society could be if we all practised this in our daily lives.
Mariss Stevens, archivist, mother, poet, quilter, etc
My wish for all South African women is a solid and decent education. There is truth in the old adage that knowledge is power.
Julie Hall, writer, lecturer, mother
My wish for women in this country is to believe in miracles, believe in the positive and believe in themselves. Never to give up but to persevere with grace. Follow your passion and you will succeed – not in a way that satisfies your ego, but in a way that satisfies your true destiny.