The dignity of the state capture commission has been held up by Zondo's personal approach. Even the most reluctant witness could not gather the rudeness to withdraw.
This women-led organised campaign wants the country to include women all year round, not just in Women's Month.
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Wouldn't it be truly impactful if women withdrew entirely from every breakfast or high-tea or rose-giving ceremony until our demands (which are quite concise: pay us the same and stop violating us), are met, asks Jahni de Villiers.
It's almost Women's Day again. The day and the month that
we pretend that things will change and that women will finally be able to take
up their equal, rightful place in society, and not be subject to violence in
their personal and work-lives.
It must be mentioned that this commentary does not seek to
invalidate the contributions of women in the history of our country, or that
these women should not be honoured. This is a reflection on the distortion of
their legacy into a puff of pink smoke.
We will all come together and we will speak of striking
rocks, and we will pretend that we don't notice the irony. We will forget that
we live in a country where between a third and a half of women will experience
violence from their intimate partner during their lifetime, and three-quarters
of women will experience sexual harassment in the workplace. We will not lump
in the garden variety harassment like workplace bullying and a patriarchal
system where performance is measured against time spent at work, despite the
demands of having a family falling squarely on most women, because that will
surely mean that we will run out of paper to list examples.
We will gracefully accept speeches in our honour. We will
listen to all sorts of commitments, none of which explain why we aren't the
focus of workplace-policymaking, or any policymaking for that matter. We will
smile and push away the unwelcome certainty that those in power are not
motivated to change a system that benefits them.
It is uncomfortable to face the fact that large-scale
change is needed in an entrenched system, and that the changes need to be led
by women. The question is if it has come to the point where perhaps we need to
bid Women's Month farewell if we are not willing to make the necessary changes.
Perhaps it is time to say that harassment and violence against women will not
stop, so let's rename this month and carry on with our lives. There must be a
plethora of other causes that could take over the month of August.
The alternative would be for women to turn into large rocks
in the path of patriarchy: What would
the so-called Women's Day celebrations be with no women present? Wouldn't it be truly impactful if women
withdrew entirely from every breakfast or high-tea or rose-giving ceremony
until our demands (which are quite concise: pay us the same and stop violating
us), are met?
I believe women who have a choice and a voice, should use
it to start causing massive embarrassment to the perpetrators of these
painfully awkward social events aimed at placating us for another 12 months. I
will not be handing out or receiving any roses or attending any Women's Month-themed
events until my sisters and I are paid the same and not violated, and I will
not hesitate to use my voice for those who are not able to.
Time's up, time is now, call it whatever you will, but
enough is well and truly enough.
- Jahni de Villiers is the head of labour and development at AgriSA. She writes in her personal capacity.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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