Nontando Zintle Ngamlana: Executive Director; Afesis-corplan
Afesis (meaning liberation in Greek spelt with a ‘ph’) and corplan shortened from Community, Research and Planning is an East London based NGO whose work contributes to strengthening good local governance, the establishment of pro-poor sustainable settlements and access to urban land. Afesis-corplan has been in existence for more than 30 years and has contributed immensely in shaping policy and practice in its areas of focus over the years. While located in East London, the organization’s work, just like its social justice issues of focus, transcends provincial boundaries.
In realising an alignment in their vision and mission, Afesis-corplan and DDP, have been collaborating for a number of years now. Both organizations believe in supporting agency and in partnering with communities to participate in local governance as a way of strengthening a participatory democracy but also to co-create service delivery solutions. In partnership, Afesis-corplan and DDP have initiated programmatic interventions in the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal working with a multiplicity of stakeholders.
What does women month mean to you?
For me, a women’s month is an opportunity to rally the whole country to reflect on women; celebrating their strengths and achievements, acknowledging their challenges and pondering interventions necessary to address those challenges. Women in South Africa still face grave injustices and violence and are often locked in the informal sector of the economy. Covid-19 has highlighted challenges faced by many of the country’s women and August is a month which we, as a society, should be spending in reflecting, dialoguing and rallying our efforts and resources towards responding to these challenges.
Why is celebrating women’s month important to you?
The role women play in the South African society has not always been recognised or appreciated. In many industries, the leadership capabilities of women are under-recognised so much so that women are hindered from rising into positions of power and influence. In celebrating women, we challenge existing stereotypes and discriminatory practices. A celebration of women power and their influence is an extremely empowering societal process, one that activates women agency.
What concerns you the most about politics in South Africa?
The extreme violence against women and girls that seems to be worsening in South Africa is concerning, a solution rests in a multi-pronged society-driven fight. There is a need for policy interventions and resources at a national level, coupled with targeted interventions that must engage learned behaviour at a household level to fight gender-based violence and femicide. To achieve this requires a rallying of society towards a common goal. The women’s month is a moment through which this rallying of society happens, but it can’t just be an event, or a 30-day affair, there is a need to sustain conversations on women’s rights, safety, violence, economic progression, etc.
Personally, I long to raise my daughter in a South Africa where her gender will not determine the opportunities she would have, or determine where she could freely walk down the road without fearing for her safety. A South Africa where government’s resource allocation is alive to her biological make-up and service delivery needs and responds to these adequately. A South Africa where no girl child is turned into a wife and subjected to repeated rape under the guise of a culture.