Women's voices need to come out of the shadows and into mainstream of society



Women have and are contributing to the world's wealth materially, in wisdom and knowledge, in psychological and emotional investment and in industriousness and ingenuity.However, women's contributions to society have not always been spotlighted and often remain invisible.A major part of combating the oppressive systems and values that enable the scourge of gender-based violence and misogyny is to bring women's voices and contributions out of the shadows into the mainstream. I was challenged by a male friend's decided effort to find and highlight the contribution of a woman for every piece he writes. This includes crediting women for their innovations and inventions, for their written works and additions to existing knowledge.For a man this is hardly a thought. Men are validated everywhere they go, in every industry, in every sector, in historical books and accounts about preceding epochs, in tales of pioneering and valour that changed the world for good, as well as in mammoth failures and acts that left ruin. Women's roles at the core and heart of institutions, in the courts of ancient kingdoms, in commerce, in science and technology are often obscured to brush the egos of men.In the 21st century, though, it has become acceptable, even fashionable and politically correct, to take a day or two out of the calendar and dedicate it to women.In SA we've dubbed August Women's Month, so much of this month will be spent uncovering and discovering women's contributions with dialogues and events to celebrate women in different fields. We will commemorate that majestic march of the 1956 women to the steps of the Union Buildings, leaving behind signed petitions against the extension of pass laws to black women at then prime minister JG Strijdom's door.This year we have the opportunity to commemorate women for their present contribution to this nation and indeed the world.Covid-19 has brought women out of obscurity. Women are not marginal. They are integral to every human activity. Forming the core of the provision of care, this global pandemic has reaffirmed the significance of women's work and contributions. That which women do forms the pillars upon which our societies stand.Patriarchy and misogyny work to oppress and overshadow women and their value. And misplaced modesty and fear cause some women to voluntarily shrink back into dark corners and to give pre-eminence and undue honour to male counterparts.But the times we're living in and the brazenness with which state resources are squandered and stolen calls for women to undertake a march of such a significance as the 1956 Women's March.The march in August 2020 may not necessarily take the form of a physical presence at the Union Buildings but it must entail women raising their voices and sending out a strong message.It's not enough for women to march against gender-based violence and treat the other ills besetting our society as wholly unrelated.The system that enables the abuse of women is the same that enables and emboldens corruption and the diversion of the state from developmental goals, to feeding the politics of eating.Women should continue to be at the forefront of mobilising against abuses of power within political parties, state institutions, the private sector and civil society.Women must stand up against graft, against the undermining of their value and against any push to cut back on social protections that are a safety net for many women. The rock has been struck one too many times. Let the rock now strike.Comment on Twitter @NompumeleloRunj

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