That black women in South Africa suffer a triple oppression of gender, race, and class, has become a commonplace. Gender inequality is so prevalent that it is accepted rather than challenged. Issues concerning women’s rights have long been overlooked, and as a result, have intensified over recent years.
There is considerable confusion about how to explain women’s oppression in contemporary South Africa, as well as how to analyze the intricate relationship of gender, race, and class. One major difficulty is the lack of black women’s voices in historical records. Documentary silence may be equated with passivity and insignificance, and black women simply disappear from our view of the past. However, we will remain unable to break the stranglehold of gender oppression in South Africa if we continue to pretend that it is a recent phenomenon. We need to interrogate its histories to fully understand its impact.
As a graphic designer, I seek to ensure that violence against women in South Africa is given the consideration it needs. My thesis project includes a book that examines the origins and effects of gender oppression in South Africa. It addresses abuse and violence against women that manifest as intrinsic, pervasive aspects of gender relations. Accompanying the book is a website that uncovers the perspectives of South African women throughout history. It offers an alternative form of remembering the country’s past by highlighting the contributions of women.
We are still a long way from mapping women’s position, both historically and in the present, but my hope is that this project contributes to the conversation. Much must still be done to integrate these findings into our understanding of society. Overall, this project is a way to expose inequity and reveal virtue in South African society.