Speech by Thobeka, Grade 9, given on Women’s Day 2018.
Greetings. My name is Thobeka. I am doing grade 9. In school I am a student leader and also a peer leader in the community. My role as a leader is to lead my peers by example and honestly. I should not lead by authority but should lead by knowledge.
However, before I am a leader, I am a girl. And on this day (9 August, Women’s Day, South Africa) I will tell you how it is like to be a woman and also be a leader in this country. For me, being a girl has never made things feel different as of a boy. But some women who I am close to have felt that gender inequality. This is whereby a man’s voice sounds louder than a woman’s voice (In Zulu we say; izenzo zomuntu wesilisa zibukeka zibalulekile futhi kuyizo ezifanele umuntu wesfazane.)
But, gender inequality is not the only problem that we women face. Day by day we are discriminated because of our bodies, on the way we dress. This is what is called “body shaming.” I can relate to this, as I have and still experience body shaming where people are always saying “Thobeka, you getting bigger”, “Thobeka that skirt doesn’t look good on you because usududla (you’re fat)”, “Thobeka, you should start jogging.” And I always ask myself that who said that for me to be beautiful I have to be slender?
As much as body shaming has played a huge role on most women’s lives and destroyed their self-esteem and their confidence. I have not let this get into me. Maybe this is because I have people who always tell me that I am beautiful just the way I am and that my body is precious just the way it is. And I believe that we should get more people who can tell our women that and the little girls that are still growing up.
But sometimes, on some cases we women feel our importance and see our value, on events and days like this. Where everyone can be able to hear our challenges that we face and those make us less human.
I believe we should have more men like the ones that are with us here today. Men who have hope, and also support women in leadership.
So everybody, forget all the reasons why it (equality) won’t work and believe the one reason why it will! All the limits are self-imposed. To all the ladies here today, Happy Women’s Day.