Gender equality has not been attained when taking into account lower remuneration for the same work done and the horrific crimes against women and children. The recognition of women’s rights on paper has unfortunately not been synchronized with the reality on the ground, especially in deeply traditional communities.
In South Africa, the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 120 of 1998 was a giant leap towards the equal status for women in customary marriage regimes. This act was promulgated in the spirit of the Bill of Rights which does not distinguish based on gender but guarantees equality, dignity and freedom in an open democratic society for all. These two legislative instruments have opened immense possibilities for women from all walks of life beyond tribal identity. More and more women are now able to participate in processes that were traditionally considered as predominantly for men.
For example, the position of a Police Officer. Many years ago the thought of a female Police Official was laughed at. Today there are many heroic women in blue working exceptionally hard to make South Africa safe, peaceful and great.
Legal Hero has many policyholders within the South African Police Service and it was a great honour to meet with superwomen Constable Peterson (P), CAC Sokhabase (S) and Constable Manuel (M):
What do you have to say to those who stereotype and believe women cannot form part of SAPS?
P: Women are equal to men. There is a risk but women are strong too, we can manage this post. No problem!
S: I disagree with those who stereotype. Women can handle it. We just need the same support from management.
M: It is risky to be a Police Official but not because of whether you are a man or a woman. If you know what you do and if you took your training seriously, women can be the best officials. Take care of yourself and your partner and you will be safe. Mental stability is everything. Don’t panic and be strong.
How do you balance your career, health, happiness and (if there are children) family life?
P: I am a Police Officer and a family woman. Both are in my veins. This makes it easier as it comes to me naturally. I am providing for my family.
S: You just need to manage your time better and make good decisions and you will be fine.
M: It is a bit tricky, but I think everything has its time. I take my career seriously but I don’t let it interfere with my happiness or family time.
What message do you have for other women this Women’s Day?
P: It takes a special woman to be a strong woman. Every woman can be a strong woman but it is a choice. It does take a lot to complete all my tasks and be the person I want to be. So I just want to encourage other women out there to remain strong.
S: I wish for all women to be blessed, and let what they touch be blessed too. I wish women strength to discipline their children in a proper manner.
M: Just do not let the little things get you down. There are so many things daily trying to get you down. Especially if you are a woman. In all things you need to rise above the circumstances.
Legal Hero salutes all the women across South Africa and indeed all over the world who, despite the naysayers, work hard towards the achievement of peaceful and prosperous societies, economies and families. Happy Women’s Day!