If we are simply going to use Women’s Month to point out all the issues women face without providing solutions to them, then August is nothing but a month of large-scale virtue signalling.
Devoting a month to highlighting issues facing marginalised groups in society can play an important role in reminding us that we have much work to do. The only problem is that we never actually do the work. What is the point in spending an entire month diagnosing a problem to which, when the month is over, we have no solutions? By repeating this process annually, we turn Women’s Month into a way for us to merely feel good about paying attention for a few days to the issues women face.
August should be dedicated to finding solutions, which, if they are good solutions, will take on a life of their own. Solutions continue where months end. And a simple solution we can implement to uplift women in South Africa is to inject a healthy dose of liberalism into their lives.
The difficulties that women face are manifold. Without addressing every single issue, I suggest some basic solutions can be implemented overnight to tackle the most significant hurdles.
Three solutions, in my view, could make a substantive change in the lives of women: property rights; social mobility; and gun ownership.
The first, property rights, is currently under threat by the ruling African National Congress’s intention to change the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
Poverty among them will persist
The second solution, social mobility, is closely related to property rights. It is widely accepted that property rights underpin wealth and wealth creation. If individuals are allowed to own property, they can use this as a foundation from which to build their wealth. This is what allows individuals to become socially mobile – to move up the socio-economic ladder. If the right of women to own property – and the same is true for everyone else – is denied or limited, they will never become prosperous, and poverty among them will persist.
The third solution, gun ownership, is a controversial proposal which many believe should not be allowed, not only for women, but for any South African.
Gender-based violence (GBV) and the prevalence of violent and sexual crimes against women have become an issue of great concern among South Africans. There has been much debate about how we should go about resolving this, with most proposals focusing on the perpetrators. I believe we should rather promote and assist gun ownership among women. The reason for this is simple; if perpetrators who target women know that there is a high probability that women are armed, they will be less likely to commit a crime against them.
Of course there will be those who say that women should not have to carry guns in order to feel safe. I agree, but, unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. We can argue in perpetuity about how the world ought to be, but that will not change how the world actually functions. So, let us arm women and allow them to be their own first responders.
I challenge everyone
I have presented, here, just three liberal proposals for how we can make the month of August a meaningful month for women. But I challenge everyone reading this to think of their own practical solutions to the problems women face in South Africa.
In particular, I level this challenge at feminists, women’s rights activists, GBV protesters, political leaders, and all those who call themselves progressives.
We can shout at one another all day long, but if we are not going to formulate solutions, this will be just be another month for us to feel good about ourselves.
It serves no one, least of all women, for us to raise our collective voice in August if everything goes back to normal and the #WomensMonth tweets disappear on 1 September.
It is easy enough to dedicate a month to every group of people who are marginalised in society, but a month of one’s own means nothing if the activism goes no further.
The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR