We celebrate the empowerment of women in response to the UN’s call to commemorate March 8th as International Women’s Day. The theme chosen for 2014 is Equality for women is progress for all. While the movement for the empowerment of women has consolidated in several policies that ensure equal opportunity for women, a large section remains ignored or still framed by race, sex and class.
Today, it is our intention to give the voiceless, a voice and make the invisible, visible. It is pertinent that as a circle, a community, a church, a congregation, a corporation, we look, listen and learn. These are five voices that are both social narratives as well as personal inward journeys. After all, the personal is political.
These could be your narratives. This could be your unheard voice…“I was born to be free, to grow to my full potential”
The Girl Child
I am not yet born, do not kill me. I am not yet born; do not silence me.
I am the girl child waiting behind the veil.
You can silence me with your words; wound me with your blows and kill me with your choices.
I choose to live. I choose to speak. I choose to be whole.
I am Life and I have a right to be. I am Life … a fresh green shoot.
Hidden in me are roots, leaves and flowers waiting to see the light of day …waiting to be nurtured into wholeness.
I grow towards the sun and the sky. Do not nip me, bend me, twist me, and break me.
I was born to be free, to grow to my full potential. Give me roots, so I can climb and reach for the stars.
Nurture my dreams and give my hopes, wings. I yearn to be alive in every way strong and tall and beautiful.
The Young Woman
I am Truth and Beauty but I live in the valley of the shadows of fear. I am bound behind a veil.
I am stared at, stalked, chased, groped, mauled, assaulted, violated and killed.
I am desirable yet disposable.
I am an object of desire. Framed by culture’s gaze, objectified by materialism and defined as a commodity, I am the Unique Selling Proposition that sells everything from fans to fantasies.
I am the prize to be won; a trophy to be flaunted; a pleasure to be experienced.
I am defined by my race, my colour, my body shape and size, my class, my caste, my creed.
I am bound by your mirror and my reflection. I long to be safe.I long to be free. I long to be me. Just me.
The Woman Next Door
colleague. I am lost behind my seven veils.
I’m your bread winner, food fixer, clothes dryer, bed maker, tear collector, wound healer and car driver.
I am the Mistress of spices, the juggler of tasks, the tamer of lions and the ruler of hearts.
I can be a role player, a match fixer or a game changer.
I slip; I slide; I toss; I turn… from role to role and road to road. I can be anything, be anywhere, at anytime.
I am lost somewhere between the scenes…I lose myself between the lines.
I’ve forgotten how to be. I know there’s more to me… there has to be.
I have dreams, I have hopes and I too have needs. A hug, a kiss, a smile, will go a mile but most of all, I need to know … that you know, there’s more to me than what you see.
The ‘Other’ Woman
periphery…the veil lies between us and them. Labelled.
Stereotyped, Maligned. De-humanized.
I could be unattached or detached.
I was a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife. I am single… so singled out…a single woman… single parent… single spouse.
I have many names – Spinster, divorcee, widow. Addfierce, flirtatious, frivolous and frustrated.
In this culture of contradictions, I could be a Devadasi or a Devi; a Dalit or a Diva.
I am the irony. ..The jest… The charity.
I could be Black… Yellow… Red… Brown.
I am suspended in scrutiny, judgement, blame and ridicule.
A target for malice, for gossip, for abuse and exploitation I am alone. I am single. A carriage with no links, with no name, goes nowhere.
No one sees the fighter, the crusader, the Womanist, the survivor.
Gender diversity is touted as the latest corporate speak. While we laud what we have achieved and how far we have come, there is also a counter culture that is growing – one that reduces women to a topic, a headline, a statistic. Somewhere in between these struggles and the attention, the essential woman is lost. Somewhere between the processions, protests and the propaganda, the real woman is almost an absence; she has become invisible and voiceless.
Let us continue to give the voiceless, a voice and make the invisible, visible.
The ‘Retired’ Woman
I watch life pass in front of the veil. Time and tide wait for no one.
I am tired. I am spent. I am lonely. I am afraid.
I was the Queen Bee in my hive; the matriarch of the family; the centre of a universe of love and need.
I am past my prime…past reinventing. The writing is on the wall.
I’m no longer needed, no longer useful, and no longer busy.
I don’t want to be a burden, a nuisance, a problem. I fear being forsaken and forgotten.
Day after day I revisit my album of memories, pulling an image that reminds me of who I was.
I sit spinning yarns, knitting hearts and weaving dreams.
They unravel and sag like the skin on my bones.
I watch and wait. Wait and pray. Night and Day.
I am alive. I will hope in God.