As Women’s Month approaches, women’s breakfasts, high teas and women’s conferences become increasingly popular to celebrate the contribution of women in South Africa’s democracy.
In South Africa, Women’s Day observed on 9 August, commemorates the women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 against the carrying of passes by women.
Since 1955 each year South Africans reserve the month of August to pay tribute to these women and the women who have come after them, but the execution of this tribute has not come without criticism.
A significant amount of the criticism comes from South Africa having souring femicide and woman abuse statistics, which often lead femicide. According to Africa Check, most recent data from the World Health Organisation show that the femicide rate in the country was 12.1 per 100 000 in 2016, which was almost five times higher than the global average of 2.6.
The government’s responses to issues facing women have also been consistently criticised. The failed drive from the Department of Arts and Culture in 2014 to have South African’s wear doeks every Friday for the month of August.
It’s safe to say this was not a welcomed idea. The failures of women's fair inclusion and treatment while parading the the commemorative day remain an issue throughout women's months each year, locally and internationally.
As long as men who are outed as sex predators continue to flourish while their victims are punished for outing them, Women's Day will continue to be a farce.— Ray Stings (@Purba_Ray) March 9, 2019
While the government initiated a welcomed response to protests against gender-based violence in 2018, resulting in the Gender-Based Violence Summit, the execution of how Women’s Day is commemorated and how women are support thereafter remains a point of contention.
In 2019, the South African chapter of shesaid.so, global network of women in the music industry, have launched a campaign called #InclusionBeforeProfit against a “marketing gimmick for events and promoters who profit off performative equality in August every year”.
Leader of shesaid.so in South Africa, Angela Weickl, says: “We have witnessed the majority of our South African heritage holidays being commodified, which has weakened the sentiment behind our celebrations in exchange for marketing tricks and performative diversity with no substance. The problem with only focusing on women in August is that it creates an illusion of inclusion which attempts to excuse accountability for the rest of the year's indiscretions.”
Angela says the idea for the campaign came about after she discovered she has similar experiences with other women in the music industry. She adds that the South African chapter of the network is designed to include women, gender non-conforming and LGBTQ+ people in the creative industries that include music, design, art and fashion.
This campaign has a fundraising component to benefit organisation it believes are doing good work in their respective fields. The organisations to be donated to include People Opposing Women Abuse, OUT and Open Door Crisis Care Centre.
Angela says this fundraising component aims to get people to scrutinise where their money is being spent.
“If you would spend money on an event, and you discover that event does not align with what you would want to support then maybe you would consider investing that money into a charity who does align,” she says.
This campaign has already gained some momentum online with support from musician Mx Blouse and entrepreneur Nandi Dlepu among others.
Angela says: “We will continue #InclusionBeforeProfit each year until the imbalance is rectified.”
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