By: Mbalenhle Mkhize
Women in South Africa are slowly breaking the gender stereotypes and changing the narrative of what women stand for and who they are in the spaces they occupy. The definition of a South African women today is no longer just a homemaker/ caregiver. Historically women were viewed as less important, their say and voices held little to no influence. In a country that holds many traditions women were and, in some instances, still are believed to have specific roles and duties in society. In fact, a staggering number of women experience gender violence and/or domestic abuse because women are viewed or seen as powerless. How do you as a woman balance the pressures of society and continue to be successful in your industry or be a trailblazer in your field/community? What does it mean to be “Imbokodo in Balance”?
The Democracy Development is hosted a women’s day forum to create a space for women within the leadership collective to engage, network and learn from one another. This would also be a space for women to engage on how they navigate their leadership roles within the spaces that they currently occupy.
The forum was held at Garden Court Marine Parade on the 07th August 2019.
The specific objective for the women’s breakfast forum was to connect women in leadership and discuss progress action for women in South Africa. This objective was achieved through inviting women from all walks of life, to engage with one another and discuss the initiatives and action plans that needs to be achieved for the growth of women in general in KZN, South Africa. The indicator for this objective was to provide space for women in KZN to share remedies of success, network and discuss how women can grow as leaders in their respective fields.
The forum was targeting women from political organizations, civil society organizations, professionals, young women and ordinary women residing in KZN. The intended group for this forum was reached as we managed to get a good number of women who are leading in the business sector, government officials, universities and the civil society.
Theme: Balancing women’s wellness and career in a modern society.
Theme: Enterprise development and access to funding.
Theme: Women in Sports
Theme: Identity and self-branding
Theme: The importance of a woman’s image, fashion and beauty at a workplace and beyond.
The intended outcomes of the women’s breakfast forum were achieved, the speakers through their presentations were able to cover the following themes; identity and self-branding, women in sports, enterprise development and access to funding, balancing women’s wellness and career in a modern society and the importance of a woman’s image, fashion and beauty at a work place and beyond. This contributed directly to the first and second intended outcomes.
The speakers were able to give insights on how they balance their feminine duties at home to their leadership roles in the workplace and how they overcome challenges and barriers in spaces that are predominately led by men. The level of engagement in the room demonstrated that there is a change in the narrative of how women see themselves. And in that conversation, one could see that the issue is not that women don’t want to participate political agendas etc., but it is the case of the systematic barriers that don’t allow for this change to take place.