“Sisters, it’s our time. Please occupy the space”
More than 200 women dressed in traditional clothing from all over Africa coloured the hall of Braamfontein Recreation Centre in Johannesburg.
This event was organised in celebration of women’s month, and intended to inspire a spirit of sisterhood, equipping women to be able to organise themselves to take action on women’s issues. The opening speaker reminded the group that this begins at home, in our families, our communities and ourselves. We were instructed to tell ourselves and those around us that we are beautiful, capable women.
Amongst the points made, were that the election of women to positions of influence is good, but it’s not enough, and there is still a way to go. Commitments to women’s empowerment by policy makers is not yet translating into reality, which is partly due to problems such as economic challenges, domestic violence and other factors that hold women back. The speaker highlighted that women have to work 4 times harder than men to prove their worth.
“I want to say to you: please occupy the space!”, she declared, telling us to also support one another to occupy the space, rather than letting petty issues like jealousy and fighting divide us on such a vital cause.
We were also reminded that each person has a gift to offer – we all have our unique space and our unique contribution to make. We can’t be the same as each other and we can’t be anyone other than ourselves, so we should embrace ourselves. She dared us, that when we leave the event, we walk out with the conviction that we are not going to be the same.
During this event there were also opportunities to meet other women who are actively involved in women’s empowerment initiatives. We were able to connect with others who we believe we can work with in future as we develop programmes with the South African Somali Women’s Network (SASOWNET).