Women deserve much better

2012-08-04 09:36

August is here, and with it the first annual dose of platitudes from South Africa’s politicians about the role and importance of women in our country.

The second will come in November, when the annual 16 Days of Activism kicks off amid a flurry of promises.

For the rest of the year, South Africa’s women and their daily battles – rape, femicide, harassment, massive economic inequality in an unequal society – are largely invisible.

This is the reality, 365 days of the year, and it’s a war that must be fought by every right-thinking South African on both ordinary days and the “special occasions” set aside to celebrate women.

At the moment, it’s mostly women who are fighting the war: women living in communities across the country, doing their best to make their families, neighbourhoods and South Africa a better, safer place.

In KwaZakhele, Port Elizabeth, four elderly women are so sick of waiting for the police to get tough on criminals that they have formed their own neighbourhood watch. They are never joined on their nightly patrols by their male neighbours. Instead, it’s other women who walk beside them.

Women like the Public Protector, like one of our top scientists, like our national police commissioner say they have worked hard to be both exceptional citizens and good mothers.

None of them waited around for politicians or policy makers to change their worlds.

It’s this innate strength that makes South African women so exceptional – whether it’s on August 9, in November or on any other day of the year.

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