“She in beauty, education, blood,William Shakespeare, King John (1598)
Holds hand with any princess of the world.”
Women. Female human beings, around 50% of the world’s population. Finally getting the recognition and support they deserve; at least in the civilised countries on our planet. Religious and cultural restrictions over the millennia have seen women being under appreciated, undervalued and under used. For a definitive view on how women’s rights have been viewed in the past, the right to vote is a perfect example. It’s hard to believe that women were only allowed to vote in South Africa in 1930: less than a century ago. They got to vote in 1944 in that centre of European culture, France; in 1928 in the United Kingdom and 1920 in the United States. Happily to note, the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have seen a change in the classic (male orientated) gender roles. In 1900 in the USA, only 6% of women were employed in labour forces. By 1923 (and after a World War that syphoned off a large proportion of the younger male population) this had risen to 23%. The writing of emancipation was on the wall.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the playing fields are level. Through the 1970’s, although women had found their way into the business and academic fields, they still – in the main – avoiding having children. Laws as they were structured then did not allow for women to bear ‘two burdens’, those of child bearing as well as careers. It has taken a further fifty years for legislation to recognise the problems and attempt, not always successfully, to allow women to achieve success as mothers as well as in their chosen careers. It is difficult to note that in 2005, women with university degrees were earning, on average, 63% of the male equivalent salaries in the USA. The ‘glass ceiling’ that was much spoken about during Hilary Clinton’s attempt to reach the presidency is a lot more than a feminist myth. Chauvinism is not dead; not yet any way.
Here in South Africa we celebrate women on National Women’s Day, the 9th August. It’s the very least we can do. As a country we can be reasonably proud – certainly in government and many aspects of industry and academia – of our record in according women the recognition and status they deserve. As an example, in 1994, less than 3% of parliamentary representation was female; today it is over 40%. A big step in the right direction, giving the lead to the rest of the country’s institutions. However, this good news is tempered by an unusually high preponderance of general violence towards women; something that needs to be addressed even more vehemently than is currently the case. Hopefully government will continue on its path of pursuing solutions to this scourge.
To matters more pleasurable: Waterfront Charters have been approached by PRASA, the rail transport agency, with what we see as a great initiative – focusing on women who have contributed to our burgeoning tourist industry. They are combining this with another worthwhile cause: showcasing the incredible beauty and tourist potential of the Western Cape. This they will be doing through their Rail Tourism Department; their aim, and we quote them directly, is ‘to create platforms that allow for productive business developments and creative connections to further tourism. The mission has remained constant with creating an enabling environment for the growth of tourism enterprises; we want to promote meaningful participation.’
What better way to harness the power of National Women’s Day than by arranging a rail trip on the Business Express Train from Cape Town to the beautiful Drakenstein area? With networking on the train, brand awareness and engagement opportunities and other value propositions it looks like an event not to missed by those who want to further the aims of both tourism and women in this fantastic field. A field day with a difference!
Waterfront Charters have contributed cruise vouchers for some lucky recipients, and there are sure to be many more valuable opportunities presented during the trip and seminar. (Details below of how to be involved on the day.)
We celebrate all the amazing Women in our lives; for those not attending the PRASA trip, there are all the Waterfront Charters cruises; the perfect way to show the most important people in the world just how much they appreciated. From high-spirited speed boats to luxury cruises – we have the lot. Our personal recommendation? A superb Cruise and Dine, either over lunchtime or the sunset hours.
Author unknown; reported in Jennie Day Haines, Sovereign Woman Versus Mere Man (1905)
CONTACT DETAILS FOR PRASA RAIL TRIP :
They talk about ‘a woman’s sphere’
As though it has a limit;
There’s not a spot on sea or shore,
In sanctum, office, shop or store,
Without a woman in it.
Rail Tourism Ambassador
Metrorail Marketing Department
021 449 2366/2504
081 398 5099