The Wits Rag society hosted a Women’s Month event to highlight the experiences of women in South Africa. One of the few events at Wits to have taken place in the course of the month, it took place on August 6 with just under 30 people in attendance.
Held in the cozy Rag pub, in the basement of the Matrix the organisers set up a free intimate poetry session for students. The poets who performed included Thando Buthelezi and Nobuhle Khanyile both of whom do not take the art of poetry very lightly.
The aim was to bring about an awareness about women’s struggles, and also celebrate and empower women. Although the entrance was free, attendees were encouraged to give donations for the The Diary Of Esther, a charity and education initiative that focuses on the transformation of the girl into a woman and what that process does to young women, especially girls who come from areas where menstruation is a taboo subject.
The inititative donates sanitary pads and towels to needy girls in schools and universities. They also have an education programme where they involve boys in understanding what happens to a girls body when she is on her peiod.
Sibongile Bhebhe, one of the representatives of the Diary of Esther said that “Since time in memorial, periods have been something that we do not want to talk about, something that scares us, something that people are shy about, so what the Diary of Esther has done, we want people to understand – why the period?”
Although the turn-out was low, the response from people who attended the event was that it really struck a chord. Mostly students feel that women are not celebrated enough at Wits.
Zoe Ngwenya said, “I’m a firm believer in the notion of empowering women and as an aspiring feminist I feel that it was really important for me to be here and to stand and to see what other women had to say about women and the experiences.” Ngwenya also thinks that, “We could do with more events like this where more guys actually attend these events. We need to actually also involve men in such things because they are very ignorant to certain things that involve women.”
Another student in attendance Charlie Hadebe said more events like this need to happen “on a large scale, on a huge scale, I mean most of our lecturers aren’t females, academic world, business world, it’s not enough”.
“This was very educating and it opened a lot of eyes, I was opened to a different view of women because I didn’t know a lot and as some of the speakers have said that we guys don’t understand. The people who were speaking and performing, they gave me an insight into what it really is to be a woman” said Mamphofulane Mohale, one of the few male students in attendance. He said that he doesn’t think the university is doing enough to empower woman because the only other event he’d seen was Vow FM, the campus radio station, asking people to write messages on a piece of paper at the library lawns to celebrate women.
“Definitely it’s not enough, women need more recognition in this school and I think the school can do better… People are not being made aware and they’re not being taught the importance of women’s month.” said Mogale.