In August 2017 Ambre Nicolson and Jaxon Hsu published the 'A-Z of Amazing South African Women'. It was a list of the most influential and inspiring women in South African history. It mentioned women such as Winnie Mandela, Antje Krog and Irma Stern. I was so excited to buy this book because I learned about some amazing people. People who I would have never heard about. While I was going through the list I eventually came across U which stood for the Unknown Women, "whose stories we don't know". This stuck with me as there are women not only in South Africa but around the world, who fight and overcome, achieve great things, raise families and still hold their heads high when faced with difficulty.
Shortly after the book was published the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements really started taking off. Where women from high profile platforms came forward and spoke out about abuse and wrongdoing that they had suffered.
The world sat up and took note. Why? Why now? Why when people know that women all over the world have been suffering from abuse, neglect, racism and suppression, to a name a few, are people taking note now? Is it because it is Hollywood? Is it because these people are household names? On a personal level I was very conflicted, why do people take action and speak out when Hollywood does it? Is it because on one hand it is becoming trendy? Because it is now 'the thing to do'? Or On the other hand, finally, a spotlight is being put on something that has been going on generations and it can no longer be ignored. It gave way for everyday people to come forward and stand up for themselves albeit in private and not for the world to see. For that reason, I believe that the campaigns should be supported so that progress can be made and we can achieve equality amongst genders or at least start paving the way.
"U is for all the unknown women whose names we don't know. For the women whose names were stolen from them when they were made slaves. For the women whose names were replaced with those of their masters. For the women who gave up their real names for colonial tongue. U is for all women whose stories we will never know. For the everyday heroines who go to work long before it is light and return long after it is dark so that their families have food to eat. For the single mothers who strive to give their children a better life than their own. For the mothers who raise other women's children while their own live far away. For the older sisters who are mothers to their younger sisters and brothers. For the grandmothers who raise their children's children as their own. U is for the unknown women who fought to have their labour recognised and valued equally. In the home and in the factory. In the laboratory and the boardroom and the courtroom. On the sports field and on the stage. In the corridors of power and the halls of hallowed institutions. U is for all the unknown women who refused to know their place. Who did not sit down. Who did not shut up. Who defied injustice. Who struggles against oppression. Who demanded equality. Who fought for our freedom to choose. U is for all the unknown women who came before us." For these women let us continue to #PressforProgress and stand next to them as we fight for our rights and equality. They say if you educate a girl you empower a nation. Let us educate our girls and feel empowered as a nation, as a collective, as a world community.
Sources: A to Z of Amazing South Africa Women. Ambre Nicolson 2017. Published by Modjaji Books - www.modjajibooks.co.za