UP EXPERT OPINION: International Women's Day - 'Inspire Inclusion: Count Her In'

Posted on March 08, 2024

Little by little, we're seeing a shift in the way the world looks at and appreciates women. On International Women's Day 2024, as we contemplate the theme of Inspire Inclusion, let's reassert our dedication to establishing a society where all women are empowered, appreciated, and integrated. Collaborating to dismantle obstacles and promote diversity will help create a fairer and more inclusive society for current and future generations.

Through inclusion, we’re set up for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women and girls are valued and respected. Inclusion encourages everyone to recognise the unique perspectives and contributions of women from all walks of life and understanding the value of women’s inclusion in all facets of life, including those from marginalised communities.

Today, International Women’s Day in South Africa highlights the significant challenges that women in South Africa and globally continue to encounter. Challenges like discrimination, gender-based violence, unequal pay, workplace harassment, unemployment, and equitable education opportunities. These challenges can only be addressed by solutions that are inclusive and empowering to women. By investing in women, we can spark change and speed the transition towards a healthier, safer, and more equal world for all.

 Despite an imbalance of power and suppressed opportunities for women, they continue to trailblaze in various spaces in their respective industries. As women, let us continue to create space for those behind us through support and mentorship, encouraging them to not only reach their own goals, but setting the bar that much higher for future females who will occupy big spaces.

This day serves as a reminder of the need to continually strive for inclusion, equality and to promote social change in all spaces including the academic space.

Both in the past and present, women in academia have and continued to play significant roles in different fields, where they hold key obligations in society to ensure inclusion and empowerment of other women. They excellently participate in revolutionary solutions because they possess the necessary skills and abilities. Therefore, women in the academic space will always remain with the responsibility to raise awareness of key elements that needs attention, as well as highlight talents and abilities of fellow women and girls. Knowing these elements also enables them to overcome any challenges that may arise while carrying out their responsibilities.

As we celebrate this day as female lectures and women in the workplace, let us remember that the world needs more working women to empower others and lead the way to success. The Department of Social Work and Criminology is committed to fight gender-based violence, promote inclusion, amplify the voices of women and girls. It continues to impact on the Sustainable Development Goals by engaging in teaching, learning, mentoring, collaborating and empowering women. The department further strives to provide society with professional change agents, problem solvers and facilitators of human relationships through the work of competent and passionate women.

Whilst in commemoration of this day globally, let us be cognisant of the fact that education and awareness are seen to be crucial in promoting inclusiveness and empowerment of women. At the same time, supporting women through education and training still play a significant role in changing harmful and discriminatory gender stereotypes that promote or condone exclusion of women and girls.

“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” ― Melinda Gates

- Author Dr Mabebe Kgole

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