Guest Column

Sexism must fall to save SA

2017-03-05 06:10

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Sediko Rakolote

The spectre of sexism continues to haunt the world. It is a catalyst to other variables of discrimination and oppression, such as class, race and religion.

Sexism should be explored to understand how it relates to other forms of discrimination and how it contributes to marginalisation, powerlessness, landlessness and the exploitation of women.

Sexist narratives encourage female inferiority and male superiority. On January 8 1984, late ANC president OR Tambo said: “Our struggle will be less than powerful, and our national and social emancipation can never be complete, if we continue to treat the women of our country as dependent minors and objects of one form of exploitation or another. Certainly no longer should it be that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. In our beleaguered country, the woman’s place is in the battlefront of struggle.”

In all its manifestations, sexism is neither morally justifiable nor politically sustainable. It promotes an undesirable ideology that humans can be put into distinct groups, and it assumes that, due to their gender, they differ in terms of social behaviour and inherent capacities. It sows the seed of division, and creates artificial boundaries and disharmony among people of different genders.

Under no circumstances should gender form the foundational principles for building nationhood. Sexism militates against the principles of ubuntu. Societies should not create a vacuum for sexists to emerge and take charge. Sexists destabilise social cohesion and plunge any democracy into disarray.

The Bill of Rights protects individual liberties such as the right to dignity and equality, which means everybody is entitled to full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms.

Interventions to push against sexism must be heightened. Sexism must be criminalised and gender equality must form part of the school curricula from the beginning. A 50-50 policy must be enacted into law and there must be a hefty penalty for noncompliance.

Sexism corrodes our democratic gains and deters our efforts to move the historically disadvantaged from the periphery to the core of society. South Africa must be a country free from any form of discrimination and oppression.

Rakolote is a board member of the International Association for Public Participation SA

Read more on:    gender equality
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