What does it mean to be a woman?

By Josephine Makofane 

“Growing up I thought I had a pretty good idea of what being a woman meant. All the woman around me or should I say the women I looked up to had a lot in common-they had successful careers, they were married, they were mothers and they were involved in their communities.

Then I sat down and thought of all the different types of woman that I’ve  come to know during my childhood who made an impression on me-some of them have been unmarried, some without 

kids, some at the start of their careers and some at the top of their careers; some enjoying meaningful work as homemakers, some young, some old and some somewhere in between .

Many of them have different perspectives on their womanhood and have different philosophies on how to go about living a healthy, happy life so I found myself wondering ; 

“what exactly does it mean to be a woman.”

Because I grew up under the care of my grandmother and not my mother, I learnt about womanhood from her. With all I have learnt from her I concluded that, being a woman meant having a female sex organ, having breasts, hair, being able to carry a baby for nine months and also being able to give birth. I thought being a woman meant being able to cook, clean, take care of your husband, your kids and keeping your family together. 

Only to realise my conclusion was wrong, these are just duties of a woman.

Being a woman is more than biology and maybe it even goes beyond critically looking at gender as a social construct. I think one of the unfortunate traits of women nature is that we feel a need to categorize women. We limit them and say that she is ‘’that kind of a woman’’ and that kind of a woman is categorized as one who is traditional, modern or a feminist or not a feminist or liberal or conservative or a virgin or a whore. The list goes on. 

To me, being a woman in the first place is being a human being and recognizing the complexity that comes with all of that. Too often , we make people the sum-total of one characteristic or value that they may embody, and apart from the fact that people, believe it or not are dynamic , they’re also complicated .

Being a woman is a recognition of some of the weaknesses that you may be ascribed from birth and the uphill battle you might face in a less than perfect world. But its also recognizing the strengthsthat come with womanhood- 

the strength of your heart, your mind, and your body, which differ from woman to woman.

A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nuture and transform. A woman is a shoulder to cry on, a drive,and the greatest supporter any person could ever wish for. 

Margret  Thatcher said 

If you want something said, ask a man if you want something done ask a woman.

And we all know that well done is way better than well said. Being a woman means being strong , being respectful , knowing what humanity truly is and having a good eye and a soft heart, it means remaining humble regardless of how others choose to treat you or even look at you, it means being responsible and accountable of whatever action or step you choose to take. You might be afraid but you need to go beyond that fear to define womanhood and not allow somebody else to define it for you. 

Let us be women who live to empower, enlighten and enrich those round us. 

Always remember that a candle losses no light by lighting another candle, let us build and not break each other”


4 thoughts on “What does it mean to be a woman?

  1. Sabinah

    To be a woman is that..
    You are the fountain of life, you are a resilient river that travels a long distance, carring everything on your shoulders and finally reaching your destinations. I guess that’s where the quote that says “we are the pillars of strength” comes from. I believe that, what men can do we can also do, as we have the capacity because women are the companion of men, gifted with equal mental capacity. I tell myself that nothing is impossible just that we tender to give ourselves weakness that don’t even matter. First thing we need to do is to change our mental thinking and start to say YES WE CAN, the negativity stops today once and for all. And remember the power of the tongue and your faith as well, start to be optimistic than being pessimistic. Bear in mind that every man needs a woman when his life is a mess, just like the game chess the queen protects the king. Therefore we have the capacity to do it, just that we never knew we can and remember you are unique, know your worth, believe that your existence is a blessing to this earth. God created someone who is wise and who only knows to Love and Sacrifise, one who Encourages and one who never say its enough and give up and God created women, the sweet, smart, sensitive and you are all that.

    As we hold hands to the weak, by giving courage to them when the roads are rough; my voice and your voice can change it all.

    By Sabinah Magapa


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