International Women’s Day
8 March 2021
I’ve noticed that we, as a society, can rely too heavily on institutional transformation to bring about the change we want to see. The theme of IWD this year, #ChooseToChallenge, highlights a need for change to come from individual choices – a choice in action.
We come from a past where speaking wasn’t allowed, let alone speaking up. Traits of this linger in the tendencies of those that feel powerless without the crutch of oppression. My mother, the strongest woman I know, taught me to always speak up against the things that don’t feel right. What she
couldn’t do, was prepare me for the time I’d need to start speaking louder.
I chose to start challenging in my final year of university in 2019. Yet another young innocent life of a fellow female Cape Town student was lost to a gender-based crime. We held vigils and we cried, we held hands and we
marched in our masses to the South African Parliament buildings. Our breaking point of living in fear as women had us fighting #EnoughIsEnough as we started a war against a system that for so long thrived off of our defeat.
A few months later, I left my beloved home country, not only during the peak of our COVID-19 pandemic, but also in a time where our South African government finally declared gender-based violence a state of emergency and a national epidemic. Specifically, violent abusive crimes committed
against the beautiful, strong, natural and resilient women in our country. We have not won, but we continue to fight.
We fight in our words, our actions, our beliefs and in our intentions. I commit to use communication as my tool for action. An emblematic component in any drive for change. I acknowledge that I choose to challenge something that is much bigger than just myself. It stems from a global history of gender-based injustice but the choices I make within myself, along with the choices that others make, means we can stand together as we challenge. From challenge, comes change. I choose change.
The way I see it, is that when we choose to challenge that inappropriate comment, the overlooked promotion, the poster in the bathroom stall or the joke told at the table, we’re choosing to harness our power as women, to be resilient. And what better pairing than a good red lipstick and a strong sense of resilience.
By Margaux Salmon