Kim Penstone

Wherefore Women's Day?

2004-08-04 08:53

As Women's Day (and a long-awaited long weekend) draw near, women all over the country hit headlines - for countless contributions to the country's development and well-being; for achievements in business and sport; and for the quiet, behind-the-scenes role they play every day, as workers, wives and mothers.

In the lead up to National Women's Day on August 9, you can bet that not one single medium will miss this chance to beat the drum to the sound of women marching. They will no doubt also take the time to dwell on real gender issues, discuss the glass ceiling, the inequality in everything ranging from household chores to executive salaries, and the abuse that so many women in our country suffer on a daily basis.

And, as sure as media companies are in it for the money, they will also take the opportunity to convince their advertisers to create special ads to show their support of South African women and their issues. They will milk the cause dry, transforming yet another public holiday into an excuse to line their pockets (I don't know, but I'm guessing Hallmark celebrates Women's Day too!)

It's a win-win affair, many would say, women get their day and have their say, and the companies that drive this country's economy foot the bill.

But I'm not one of the many, for the simple reason that I don't believe there should be such a thing as National Women's Day (although I'd like to keep the public holiday, as I understand even Christmas is under threat!)

The reason for this is simple, and was born many moons ago on the eve of one particular Academy Awards celebration. An Academy Awards that celebrated women in film.

As a dedicated teenage feminist (a calling which I later dropped like a hot potato, upon learning just how hard it is to work for a living), I recall being proud to be female, when at almost every juncture the Academy honoured an incredible female star.

But that feeling lasted only until the end of the show, when Susan Sarandon stood up (possibly to collect an award, I forget) and announced that she "looked forward to a time when there would be no need to have a special show to celebrate women".

It took a while for it to sink in. Then the penny dropped. It's the old joke. Why is there no Men's Day? Because every day except Women's Day is Men's Day.

And it is for this reason that I, too, look forward to a time where there is no Women's Day. And as just one woman in media, I equally look forward to the time when media companies will recognise the irony of spending one day a year honouring women, and will collectively turn their backs on the "celebration".

Alternatively, they could club together and create a holiday to honour men?

Send your comments to Kim

  • Kim Penstone is editor of Marketingweb, a website wholly owned by Moneyweb that focuses on the media, marketing and advertising arena. For more articles of a similar nature, go to

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