It’s August, which means it’s Women’s Month in South Africa. A month when we remember the powerful role women played in the fight for a democratic country. Somewhere between 1994 and now, Women’s Month has frequently been reduced to high teas and lots of pink advertising. If the Total Shutdown Movement against Gender-based violence has shown us anything, it’s that society has deeply failed women and we’ve had enough of it. You cannot be tokenistic about women’s issues. In order to fix and to heal, we need to listen, to acknowledge and commit to doing the hard work to change.
In the same breath, we cannot be tokenistic about motherhood. It is a fundamental part of many of our identities. We are mothers who:
- Love our children and are committed to giving them a future of possibilities
- Suffer patriarchy
- Experience violence and oppression in many forms and to varying degrees
- Are sexual beings
- Have dreams and desires
- Have a voice and need to be heard
We are women and mothers and we occupy a particular experience of womanhood through our motherhood. Some of it is glorious (many of us have chosen this path), other parts prefer to lurk in the dark, placated through shy smiles and the repetition of “it was all worth it” as we minimize our struggles.
Mothers cannot be reduced to ample bosoms and aprons and smiles. We are SO much more than that. The future would (literally) cease to exist without us, and yet so many of our issues are silenced. Our voices are silenced. We are expected to ‘die to self’ for our children, and then they are expected to thrive. ‘Dead’ women don’t raise children.
How backwards. How strange.
In the same breath, so much of this journey is wonderful and transformative. We are refined by our motherhood. The best of us is not destroyed in the fire of raising our children. No, we have lessons to share. We have value to add (in the work place, in our communities, in places of power and decision-making). We may be tired, but we’re also resilient. We have wisdom the world would be a fool to ignore.
So, this August. This Women’s Month. We’re claiming our space.
We’re sticking up our hands and declaring #IamMother.
I am – because we have an existence before our children that continues after they are born. A unique identity that needs to be preserved. No one is “just a mother”. We are so much more and that is good.
Mother – because, in a country with so much division, motherhood is a shared collective identity that we can all tap into. It is a powerful opportunity to be seized for meaningful connection, solidarity and transformation. We are proud to be mothers.
No more token gratitude for motherhood in South Africa. We want gratitude to translate into REAL change. Together, we can demand a better space to be mothers. We can demand services and support that every mother needs to thrive.
We start by claiming our space. By stating that we are here. We make our presence truly felt.
We share our stories and experiences in the multitudes so they can no longer be ignored.
We use our collective stories and social capital to be the change-makers of our time.
To pressure those in power to make real changes that will improve the lives of mothers and their children.
To invoke the power of the sisterhood to radically transform the way we relate to, and connect, with one another.
This is our power. This is our time.
Starting this Women’s Month, join us.
3 steps to join today:
- Sign the #IamMother pledge.
- Claim your space: Post a selfie using the hashtag #IamMother and tag Embrace.
- Build a movement with us. Join the conversation on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. We want to hear your voices and your stories.
This is our power, this is our time.