Monday, August 06, 2007

(hidden) Women's month ?

In South Africa, August is officially declared to be women's month. Whatever was meant by the 'declarers', in the popular mind, it denotes heightened consciousness on the role of women in the public sphere, their impact and possibly giving some credit where credit is due. This is mostly done at certain special days, allowing them, grudgingly, some space alongside men... on our (men's) terms of course. The origin of women's day is, in a general sense, linked to the role of women in the struggle against apartheid. So, certain sections claim to own this legacy. What is significant of this legacy, is the prominence the famous surnames and current ANC woman politicians and their place in our national history and national identity. Yes, maybe they deserved this place of prominence. What is however less prominent is the celebration of the role and place of the mothers of these public faces, the domestic workers, but also the (still) lowly paid ordinary teachers and lowly paid nurses, the grannies and even single mothers, on whose backs the nation were reared. They are still, even in the 'new' South Africa, hidden in the kitchens, on the farms and in our townships, in the backyard. Then there is the sick ones, the infected and those that are struggling with chronic (many times terminal) diseases. Those, who for a variety of reasons beyond their control, struggle undignified, with mental illnesses. All who are still the embarrassment, when the rich and famous come to visit and when we have to set up the stage for the powerful women, the phenomenal women... I wonder sometimes what they, the hidden, think of women's month?