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What’s it like being a woman in South Africa? Let me tell you..

By Uresha Devlal

For many of us, being a woman in South Africa isn’t all stilettos and fancy handbags. Picturing all those American movies that we have all seen. It’s all hard work and being scared all the time. Apart from the negative, there are some positives – we are strong women!

Here’s a bit about my personal journey:

The hard work stemming from a personal view as a woman in the IT field, fighting to be taken seriously. Upskilling and the continuous trial and error to be accepted by male IT ‘nerds’. You do hear it for all fields, not just IT. It’s been years that women have fought for their place in the corporate world but alas, we are here on the outside. We are very much underestimated but we are the rocks that can’t be moved. This could easily be an “international” feeling but as a woman in South Africa, this is how I feel. However, due to this downside, there is an upside. Women in South Africa have become resilient, we stand our ground and persevere through it all.

There are world stats and global charts that show South Africa is the number one most unsafe country for women and I agree. Going to work for the night shift, driving, and continuously being on high alert. Making sure that you have some sort of device you can protect yourself with or getting a firearm license to protect yourself. I had my apartment broken into, and as a single woman from that night on I have always been alert.

I would say as single women in South Africa, we are tired of always being on alert to protect ourselves. You are afraid for your friends and family taking an Uber, going to the post office, to work or at school. Because you never know what will happen. A constant state of fear! Googling safety tips and listening to other women in your close circle share their encounters. FEAR, constant fear.  As much we are in constant fear, we are brave. We go out there into the world, tuck our fear in the elastic of our bra straps and do what needs to be done.

Knowing a woman wakes up before sunrise, gets her kids ready for school, and maybe her husband for work, takes a taxi with unknown people, during riots and on-going taxi violence, and all wrapped in with the constant anxiety of being robbed, killed, or raped, all to work a minimum wage job – but she does it because she is brave! The woman, who has her early morning shift, grabs her car keys and heads out. Double-checking her doors and makes sure the gate closes behind her with her pepper spray in her bag. Young women on a night out, always holding their purse close by, never going to the restroom alone, watching their drinks because you just never know who is lurking out there. The young women who leave for school. The same anxiety overcomes her every moment she leaves her safe space.

Some women don’t have a safe space as they are being abused at home. The women who have kids are constantly worried about them, making sure they know about their whereabouts. Why? Because all they hear on the news is kids are missing or found raped and/or murdered.

That’s what it’s like to be a woman in South Africa. There are some positives and there is so much beauty in this country, but it is beyond scary.

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1 response on this

  1. Lusanda Molefe August 16, 2021 9:36 pm

    A heavy thought indeed and having adapted to these circumstances surely does make us a strong bunch. We shouldn’t have to but we do and that is all that matters

    Reply

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