On the ninth of August, we celebrate Women’s Day. This day is one that remembers the plus/minus 20 000 women who marched against South Africa’s pass laws in 1956. These laws required everyone who had been classified as black by the Population Registration Act to carry a pass that displayed their information and showed whether or not they were allowed to be in a specific area.
As much as we welcome any break from our crazy, busy lives without question, it’s important to remember what we’re taking that break for. In this case, on the ninth of August, we’re supposed to take a break from work, school, chores, and other everyday life in order to celebrate womanhood and blackness.
So besides waking up late and going for lunch on this day (which is lovely), here are some ideas for you to celebrate Women’s Day in a thoughtful way.
- Love your body and wear that bikini you have packed in the back of your wardrobe, regardless of your body-type.
For women, there is constant pressure to have a specific type of body, usually a small, ridiculously skinny type. This pressure is endorsed in so many different ways that it becomes difficult for any other body-type to feel comfortable and beautiful (which by the way, you totally are). So, put that neglected bikini on, look in the mirror, say three nice things to yourself, and enjoy the beach (if the sun decides to come out that is.)
- Uplift the women around you.
For a number of reasons, women often feel and act as if they’re in competition with each other. Think about why that is and change it. Find joy in the achievements, strength, beauty, and wonderfulness of other women.
- Read a book that explores womanhood.
Books about strong female characters and books that delve into the dynamics of womanhood are powerful and will undoubtedly impact your life.
Some book recommendations:
- The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
- Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangaremba (celebrates blackness and womanhood)
- Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
- Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (celebrates blackness and womanhood)
- The Awakening – Kate Chopin
- Get involved in NGOs that work on women empowerment.
Here is a list of these NGOs that are based in Cape Town:
- Gender Education and Training Network
- Women’s Health Project
- Women’s Legal Centre
- Women’s Hope Education and Training
- Rape Crises Centre
- Do something or stop doing something for yourself.
Women’s roles have often been defined by what they do for other people, whether it be to cook for your husband, work to provide for your child as a single mother, or stop shaving to be accepted as progressive, this Women’s Day, do something for you.
Some ideas could be:
- Go for a surfing lesson in Muizenburg.
- Finally be the singer you dreamed of being in the shower and sign up to sing at The Hub’s open mic night in Scarborough.
- Enroll in a part-time course you’re interested in at False Bay College.
- Feed your creative side and do a Drama exam with Penelope Glover in Simon’s Town.
- Dress traditionally.
In a westernised and Eurocentric world, beauty standards are defined largely by western and European influences. Indulge in the vibrant colours and patterns in traditional clothing and validate other beauty standards.
- Speak your own vernacular.
African languages are powerful and sound like no other language in the world. Where English is the accepted means of communication, black people have to monitor when they speak their own languages. This Women’s Day speak that language and show off its beauty.
- Learn to speak an African language if you don’t know how to.
Given South Africa’s history, African languages have never been given the attention they deserve.
Here is a list of ways you can learn African languages, specifically isiXhosa, in Cape Town:
- Watch a film that explores blackness.
Some film recommendations:
- Cry Freedom
- District 9
No matter how you spend your Women’s Day, I hope it’s beautiful, powerful, effective, and wonderful. Just like a black woman.