In celebration of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2016, the Centre for Women Leadership (CWL) at Mancosa [GSB] partnered with the Institute of Afrikology in facilitating a round table discussion on the theme ‘African Women Pledge for parity’. Dr Claudine Hingston, Head of the Centre for Women in Leadership, stated that the theme was in accordance with the 2016 International Women’s Day campaign theme centered around # Pledge for Parity and the main theme as“Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”.
Two facilitators, Dr Gabi Mkhize, a gender studies lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Advocate Claudette Sigamoney, Deputy President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce steered the discussion. The discussants were Mandisa Princess Daki (Managing Director of Qhakaza Africa Consulting), Councillor Dianne Hoorzuk (EThekwini Municipality), Bhanu Haripershad (Business Woman, Tourism) and Yaa Ashantewaa Archer Ngidi (Director of the Institute of Afrikology). The Mayor of EThekwini Municipality, Councillor James Nxumalo and the Minister of Executive Council of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (KZN), Mr Mike Mabuyakhulu, also graced the occasion with their presence.
After the welcome and introduction by Dr Hingston, a minute of silence was observed in solidarity for all women in Africa and the world. The first discussant, Ms Haripershad encouraged the women present to forget about the past and embrace the present. Life, she said, is about choices and women should make a choice to be strong and positive. Councillor Diane Hoorzuk also encouraged the women to be more assertive and be able to manage their time well. She added, it is important for girls to be educated and mentored so that they will have a chance of becoming successful in life. Ms Mandisa Daki, shared her life’s journey with the women. She told the audience that she had come from a disadvantaged background and was proud to be one of the successful female leaders in our society. She stressed the importance of networking and pointed out that it is a powerful tool which women should employ if they are to succeed in business. She further encouraged all the women present to make a pledge towards helping other women. Yaa Ashantewaa Archer-Ngidi’s message reiterated that gender parity can only be achieved if women support and assist each other more. A statement that was also re-echoed by Advocate Claudette Sigamoney.
In his address to the women, EThekwini mayor, Councillor James Nxumalo paid homage to the women present and stated that it was important for women to have such conversations and discussions as it will assist in making a positive difference in the lives of women everywhere. He stated that women are also human beings and should not be subjected to unequal, abusive and violent treatment. He acknowledged the importance of gender parity in society and pledged the municipality’s full support towards it. In concurrence with the mayor, the Minister of Executive Council of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Mike Mabuyakhulu, said that gender parity is a societal issue that should be addressed as it will assist in building a more developed society. Women, he said, are the fibres that glue society together and more women need to be integrated in mainstream economic activities. He said it is important to encourage such dialogues and that men should complement women rather than being too overprotective of them. The Principal of MANCOSA, Prof Yusuf Karodia stated that it was rare to see such powerful women in one room. He observed that women are becoming increasingly involved in educational pursuits and were making positive inroads in society. He encouraged the women present to continue to empower other women.
In her concluding statement, Dr Gabi Mkhize stated that gender parity was essential for the development of any country and urged all the women present to make a personal pledge towards empowering and assisting other women.