By Shelley Nortje
The month of August is Women’s Month, when the women of South Africa are celebrated for their diversity of roles and contributions; mothers, grandmothers, business women, students, wives, sisters, aunts and daughters. In the previous blog the value of fathers was highlighted in facilitating their children’s well-being. In light of Women’s Day on August 9th, Ububele would also like to emphasise the roles and responsibilities of women.
The above Nguni saying was shared with me by one of the Home Visitors. When translated it means ‘you strike the women, you strike the rock’. This saying, made famous from the 1956 march to Pretoria, captures the strength and courage of women in our country. It led me to consider what makes up a woman as well as the origins of this day of celebration.
On 9 August 1995, Nelson Mandela made a speech, celebrating the struggles of women in South Africa. In remembrance of the 39th anniversary of the 1956 women’s march to the Union Buildings in opposition to the pass laws, Mandela declared 9 August a public holiday (http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=3585). In Madiba’s own words he stated that “freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression… Our endeavors must be about the liberation of the woman, the emancipation of the man and the liberty of the child.”
This brief history of women’s day and the quote that the home visitor shared with me created feelings of pride, but also of accountability. The idea of women’s day comes with it a multitude of established and recognised rights, such as the right to protection from any form of abuse or discrimination. This was a reminder that many of the women who attend services offered at Ububele however – whether young girls, pregnant women, mothers or grandmothers – are faced with difficult environments and experiences each day. In Alexandra, where Ububele is based, being a woman or a mother also means contending with worries each day such as poverty, substance use, domestic violence, xenophobia, and rape, that make achieving these rights much more difficult.
This is at times a heavy and difficult reality. It is the work and aim of Ububele and its staff members to assist in continuing to build and support the strength of women in order to promote resilience, an ability to be emotionally responsive to one’s children and to take ownership of the rights and responsibilities of women and mothers.
Ububele would like to celebrate and show our appreciation for the women of South Africa and their resilience and power in mothering a new generation of children in a caring and responsive way.