May the Feminist Forces Be With Us

May the Feminist Forces Be With Us

As we enter the second quarter of our financial year, we are rolling up our sleeves and working towards our vision of a safe and healthy society for all.
May the Feminist Forces Be With Us

True to our legacy of campaigning for the health and wellbeing of all, the month of May will be a busy one at the Soul City Institute for Social Justice as we join the different stakeholders in civil society, government and communities across South Africa in their endless efforts to advance equality and equity.

At the top of our list is celebrating Nurses’ Day on 12 May, the anniversary of the founder of modern day nursing, Florence Nightingale's birthday. This day is particularly important to us because of our long standing relationship with nurses in different communities across the country. Our very own Sister Bettina from our Soul City television drama series is remembered as an icon in the profession. Through this character, we were able to change social norms, promote health-seeking behaviours, and create an open and trusting relationship between nurses and their patients. We not only look back at this time with pride but continue to draw inspiration from it in our work today.

The success of our partnership with the national and provincial health departments wouldn’t be successful without the Adolescent Youth Friendly Services (AYFS) Champions working in Youth Zones in clinics. Youth Zones create a safe space for young people to access services and openly interact with healthcare providers without judgemental behaviour and stigma. Through these zones, nurses are able to meet the practical and psychosocial needs of young people.

The endless efforts of nurses in our country should never be taken for granted as they are the ones who help healthcare seekers navigate the system, and with minimal resources, are able to be innovative and put their patients’ needs ahead of their own.

We would like to give our nurses their flowers while they can still smell them and invite them to spend the day with us at our offices where we will hear from some of them about their experiences, feast and treat our nurses with care packages so that they can pour back into themselves.

Following this, we will honour all mothers in their diversities as the world celebrates Mother’s Day on 14 May. SCI values mothers and the role that they play in our society. We also recognize that they are not a homogenous group, and that the different circumstances in which they live do not make them any less important. We send our love to disabled mothers, HIV+ mothers, trans and lesbian mothers, non-biological mothers, the mothers who have miscarried and those who are no longer with us. And while it is unfortunate that girls are raped and find themelves as mothers at a young age, we also support teen mothers and call for the Department of Basic Education to address the challenges that they face and ensure that they can continue with their education.

The protection and safeguarding of children has always been a top priority for us. Through our various programmes such as the Soul Buddyz TV and radio programme, which extended to school clubs, we have been centering the experiences of children as well as equipping them with the necessary tools to advocate for themselves and the issues relevant to them. SCI is particularly concerned about the safety of girl children given the drastic rise in the rates of teenage pregnancy over the years. During National Child Protection Week, commemorated between 29 May to 5 June, we will be highlighting the detriments of rape culture to the lives and wellbeing of children, especially those who bare the burden of teen pregnancy.

Our CEO Phinah Kodisang is passionate about creating opportunities for young women and girls to explore different career paths and this year is no different. We will open our doors for teachers to bring their pupils to work with us on May 25 to participate in the Take a Girl Child to Work campaign. Teachers in Johannesburg may write to us sharing their thoughts on the importance of empowering girl children, for the chance to be chosen. We look forward to spending the day with our future leaders.

As the month of May approaches the end, we will join the community of Sexual and Reproductive health activists in taking action for health equity. Celebrated on May 28, International Day of Action for Women’s Health is an opportunity to highlight how an attack on SRHR is an attack on all our rights. We will commemorate this day with a webinar focusing on menstrual health and how a lack of access thereof, coupled with stigma leads to poor health outcomes and overall wellbeing for people who menstruate.

SCI is an intersectional organization that takes pride in the country’s Constitution as it is hailed for being one of the most progressive in the world. On May 8, we commemorated the adoption of the Constitution by zooming in on the right to health. While the Constitution guarantees everyone in the country the right to quality and timeous healthcare, negative attitudes such as racism, ableism, transphobia and xenophobia often create a barrier to access. We call on all citizens to hold themselves accountable to the values of our Constitution to ensure that it is not only good on paper but in practice as well.

For the month of May and beyond, we remain deliberately and unapologetically feminist.

© 2023 Soul City Institute