This day honours the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass laws that required South Africans defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, known as a ‘pass’, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanisation, and manage migrant labour during the apartheid era.
I believe that the National Women’s Day draws or should provoke attention to significant issues African women still face, such as domestic violence, sexual harassment (at home and in the workplace), education for girls and even parenting. In these areas, women’s lives are impacted every day by a built-in gender gap. The need to push for action to obtain equality can never be overemphasised.
As a publication, Zonk News adopts voluntary guidelines on the portrayal of women in media as outlined in our editorial policy. This includes upholding the rights of women, and promoting the positive image of women, broadcasting an accurate representation of their roles in our communities.
As a media person myself, I would like to see news publications, radio and television adopting an attitude of “self-awareness,” of knowing their obligations to society. As influential arms of the community and change-agents, I hope that the media can strive to shape people’s values and behaviour towards women during women’s month.
Issues of ‘sexualisation’ and ‘commodification’ of women and children in the media have always been contentious. I will share my personal thoughts on that another day, but I do believe that while it is good to acknowledge a woman’s sexuality, it is equally important to portray that same woman beyond sex.
Having said that, while we recognise women’s contributions at home and among the family, there is also a need to acknowledge their economic and social roles. To enable and empower incredible women out there, Zonk News will be featuring ambitious and versatile businesswomen across all our social media platforms. This might not be much, but I believe that this exposure can raise us towards empowerment.
Finally, I know that the challenge for us is extremely difficult. But no one, except ourselves, will come to our rescue. And we, so many of us will add to the chaos unless we are organised to help one another where we can.
We salute the resilient women who came before us, women who fought for our place in society. We take this mantle with pride and continue the path to emancipation, peace, equality and empowerment. Happy Women’s Day, Happy Women’s Month.