Solidarity Between Women: Reality or Myth?

It’s that time of year again when the focus falls on the sector of society that holds us all together – our women.

We must bear in mind the challenges that women continue to face in the workplace where most still earn far less than men, in the offices where women are still overlooked for important promotions, in the home where women are sexually abused and in villages where young girls are forced into marriage. These are the realities still facing many women

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Women’s March on Pretoria in 1956 in protest of pass laws.  It’s a momentous historic event that is often remembered, inter alia, for the aesthetic of solidarity between 20 000 women of many different political, racial, linguistic, class, cultural and other identity markers.

But in 2016 it is unclear how much solidarity there is between women in pursuit of intersectional justice.  The lived realities of women vary, as they always have of course, based in part on such differences as class, language, sexual orientation, the urban-rural divide, the suburban-township divide, different feminisms, intergenerational differences, etc.

For Women’s day forum, the Apartheid Museum will tackle questions on the possibility of women still being able to strategically cooperate with one another in pursuit of common justice goals?  Is that possible despite the differences between women?  Or do the differences between women require us to abandon talk of solidarity between women?  Indeed, was 1956 itself a genuine show of solidarity or is that romantic historicism?

To help unpack these questions will be the following panelists:

Phumi Mtetwa

Phumi is an experienced activist working on issues of economic, gender and LGBTI justice. An internationalist, she has been based in South Africa and Ecuador since the beginning of her political career in 1985.

Farieda Nazier

Farieda is a Johannesburg-based educator, artist and researcher. For the past 5 years, Nazier has been employed as a lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, where her duties include course and module co-ordination, teaching, researching and community engagement.

Cheryl Carolus

Ms Carolus is the Executive Chairperson of Peotona Group Holdings, a women owned and managed company, that puts back 2/3 of all their profit into communities where they operate and draw their workforce from. This money is used for education and enterprise development in those communities.

Theresa Oakley-Smith 

Theresa is an expert in diversity training and change management.She has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology, and worked as an academic at Wits University before starting her own company, Diversi-T, in 1993