Traditionally Women’s Month, and Women’s Day especially, has been a time for South Africans to come together through various initiatives to recognise the hard-won freedoms women have realised, but also the long path that still needs to be walked. This usually takes the form of community events, marches, sports days, concerts or vigils. For the first time, however, South Africans will be marking this day remotely, virtually and while socially distancing from others. But let’s not let the rollercoaster that is 2020 stand in the way of making a difference because now more than ever before, South African women need your support.
Lockdown and COVID-19 has impacted South Africans in a number of ways, but perhaps none more so than our country’s women. According to the recently released National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey, between February and April 2020 alone, three million jobs were lost. Of this number, two million were jobs held by women.
So, how can you make a real difference in the lives of women this Women’s Day while still observing lockdown rules? Here are some tangible ways to recognise the day and, in many cases, put money directly into the pockets of those women who need it the most.
Jobs for women who haven’t worked
The nationwide lockdown has been extremely challenging for domestic workers, many of whom are the sole earners in their families. They spend every cent that they make on essentials like transport, food and supporting other family members. As lockdown measures ease, people are again opening their homes to domestic workers, who want to return to work.
SweepSouth co-founder and CEO Aisha Pandor says, “The domestic workers who use our platform have received specialist and expert training in sanitising homes to the highest industry requirements and we have also partnered with Airbnb to provide world-class cleaning and sanitising solutions for hosts in South Africa. Domestic workers on our platform are the safest, most highly trained cleaning specialists available for your home and by supporting them you are helping to keep bellies full and families housed.”
Groceries for women on the breadline
Even though thousands of restaurant staff are heaving a sigh of relief as they can return to work, we’re all hearing the stories of 10 waitresses on a shift and not a single customer walking through the door. The same can be said for many industries.
The reality is that while they may be employed, many women whose income isn’t steady (like those who rely on tips), are struggling to feed their families. Consider sponsoring a woman-led household with groceries for a month or two. Services like Yebo Fresh deliver to traditionally under-served areas like informal settlements. In doing so, you can provide immense relief to those who are wondering what they’ll make their family for supper this evening.
A visible symbol of support that helps women
You can show your support in a very literal way through buying Relate bracelets for yourself and your friends to wear. Their Mothers2Mothers bracelet supports this organisation which operates throughout sub-Saharan Africa caring for and training women, including HIV-positive mothers, to help them provide the best possible care for their children. Plus you’ll also be putting much-needed money into the pockets of the elderly disadvantaged women who make the bracelets. In frosted red, the bracelet embodies the passion and determination of the HIV-positive mothers who Mothers2Mothers employs, trains and empowers as mentor mothers. Orders can be placed via the website from as little as R30 each.
Support women-driven events and initiatives
Through online events, you can either contribute towards causes that help women while enjoying yourself or, if you’re a woman, empower yourself in various ways. On the Quicket events platform, for example, you can pick what works for you – from taking part in fitness classes to raise money for feminine hygiene products, to attending a women’s forum tackling pertinent local issues, to taking a self-defence class for women, to soaking up women’s poetry panels and women’s health workshops.
Or, if you have a particular women’s issue that’s close to your heart, you can use the site to create your own fundraiser.
Support that doesn’t cost a cent
Women’s Month is an ideal time to re-evaluate the beneficiaries for your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card and ensure that yours align with the causes you feel strongly about. For example, by adding the Dream2Teach Fund as a beneficiary, you’ll be contributing to the educational aspirations of South African youth, including women, every time you shop at Woolworths, Engen and other partner stores, at no cost to you. The Dream2Teach Fund plays a critical role in supporting education – and subsequent careers in the education field specifically. If you’d like to get on board and show your support, you can sign up for free at myschool.co.za or download the App.
A helping hand for women in tourism
Did you know that more than half of South African Airbnb hosts are women? These hosts have not been able to earn an income through home sharing since South Africa went into lockdown at the end of March. Airbnb has, however, made it possible to host an online experience. So, why not book a women-led Airbnb Experience? Not only will you be helping a South African woman earn some money, but you get to have tons of fun and possibly learn a new skill while doing so. It’s clear that there are still easy ways to make a significant impact this Women’s Month, despite lockdown realities. It just requires a little creativity, empathy and time.