The theme for International Women’s Day 2021, #ChooseToChallenge, is a call for all women to become aware of our responsibility to ourselves and others, in our thoughts and deeds every day. Especially, it is a call to challenge gender bias, inequality and abuse.
During this time of Covid-19, women have been charged with the responsibilities of taking care of themselves, their partners and their children by ensuring protocols are followed in the home and that children are kept safe.
I believe they have risen to the challenge with strength and grace. But, there’s more. Among the many challenges brought by Covid-19 in South Africa, the rise in domestic abuse and femicide created, as President Ramaphosa has said, another whole pandemic.
This is something women must #ChooseToChallenge by not covering up abuse. In this regard, I would ask good men all over the world to join the call for robust action against abuse, whether physical or emotional.
Where women are still largely seen as “servers” in business and women leaders are not accorded the respect their position should bring, I want to encourage men to #ChooseToChallenge the status quo and see the immense value of women as peers with the same rights to esteem as men have, at home and in business.
The time is now to understand that there can be no diversity and inclusivity in any workplace until each of us is seen in the same light as our colleagues, regardless of gender.
Lastly, I want to call on women to #ChooseToChallenge preconceived ideas about gender, age, belief systems and anything else that makes people feel “apart from” and not “a part of”, and uplift your sisters in business, in friendships, in families. By raising each other up we set an example and create environments where women feel empowered by each other and not in competition with each other.
Young women, look to older women for the wisdom that only experience brings. Older women, listen to your younger colleagues for new ideas and innovations. I hope that on 8 March 2021, each of us does something to #ChooseToChallenge, and that even the smallest efforts bring change for good, for years to come.
By *Mosima Selekisho, a director of Signium Africa