By Tiyani Rikhotso
As we wrap up women’s month, I think that it’s important to take a moment and reflect on what being or identifying as a woman means to you. A painful part of this reflection comes with acknowledging the violence and pain that many women are subject to in this country. Femicide is a real thing, and amidst the protesting and hash tagging it’s important to remember the women who are losing their lives or becoming strangers in their own bodies because of pain they are faced with.
However, there is also so much beauty and power that lies in womanhood. The month of August is meant to help us tap into this power and celebrate the dynamic, nurturing and game changing women that live amongst us. Commemorating all those who came before is also important. They made the world a better place for us to live in through their struggle and we should be building a safer world for the little girls who will follow in our footsteps.
Reaching out to your friends, siblings and the women around you and figuring out how you can build a community that supports and shows up for one another is a good place to start. There is a reason that for centuries, women have gathered together to offer support during times of need or to celebrate each other and milestones in life. Community and friendship create a safe space where people can open up and help each other in the best way they know how. An example is passing on some wisdom to your little sister or young girls around about the ups and downs they might experience during puberty. It can be a scary time and having an older person to affirm for you when it feels like when your body is retaliating against you can be really comforting. Plus, don’t we all wish we knew the period or shaving hacks we now know? There is a lot of wisdom and comfort to be shared. Taking the time to appreciate the women in my life and the friendships I’ve built has helped me realise just how important opening up to connections with other women is.
This month should also be a reminder to prioritise your self-care and celebrate yourself. Women have embraced the label of being hard workers who give of themselves endlessly to others for far too long. It’s important to pause and take some time to look after yourself. In between school work, chores and showing up for your friends and family, it’s important to find the space to connect with yourself and rest. You can have self-care days or even nightly rituals that help you come back to yourself. My go-tos are face masks, doing some yoga, journaling and watching an episode (or a few) of friends. Your body is your home and it’s especially important as women whose bodies are vulnerable to abuse, society’s unrealistic standards or our own criticisms; that we look after ourselves and stay connected to who we are.
If life has been chaotic and you haven’t taken the time to think about what womanhood (in all its complexity) means to you, its not too late. And remember that although August is specifically for shining the spotlight on us, our achievements and struggles; honouring yourself, building a community with other women and prioritising self-care is something that you should carry with you always.
Happy Women’s month!