The Centre for Women Leadership (CWL) and the MANCOSA Annual Women in Leadership Award were officially launched on the 1st of December 2015 at the Dr Chota Motala Auditorium, Mancosa [GSB].
During his welcome address, the Director of Mancosa [GSB], Dr Zaheer Hamid stated that the launch of the Centre for Women Leadership is timely, since South Africans celebrated 60 years of The Freedom Charter this year. He said that the MANCOSA Leadership has pledged its commitment to this by placing centre stage the role of women in leadership as this gives practical expression to a clarion call made by South Africa’s fore-bearers that ‘the doors of learning and culture shall be opened to all’. The CWL, Dr Hamid emphasized, intends advocating for women to be given an opportunity to explore meaningful work and professional opportunities.
According to the Head of the Centre, Dr Claudine Hingston, the Centre aims to contribute to the growth and development of African female leaders. The mission of the Centre therefore is to create an enabling environment for the promotion of women leadership roles within the African continent. Dr Hingston explained that since its inception in August 2015, the Centre has embarked on a number of research, advocacy, training, networking and mentorship activities. Amongst some of the examples she cited, is the creation of a CWL mentorship group for female MANCOSA undergraduate and postgraduate students and an empowerment training forum for rural women in the Sisonke District, KwaZulu Natal. With regards to the MANCOSA Annual Women in Leadership Award, Dr Hingston said that it is an initiative of the Centre for Women Leadership to align with one of the Centre’s objectives that recognises and awards successful and dynamic female leaders. The Award aims at recognising and celebrating the accomplishments of female MANCOSA alumni and students within South Africa and the South African Development Community (SADC) regions. The award will be presented annually at MANCOSA Graduations in Durban, starting from the 2016 graduation. Dr Hingston’s overview of the Centre was followed by poem recitations by two young poets in celebration of World’s AIDS Day.
Ms Tanita Lachman, from MANCOSA’s postgraduate academic support unit, later delivered a motivational statement in which she admonished the women present not to compete with men by trying to behave like them. She encouraged them instead to embrace the truth about themselves and to make it work for them. Her statement set the stage for the keynote address by Ms Vani Moodley, Chief Executive of Vani Moodley and Associates. Ms Moodley’s address centred on the fact that although the plight of women has been constantly brought to light, it continues to remain the same. She said that it was time to shift the focus from pointing out the plight of women to looking at ways to address the issue and to explore ways to improve the lives of women.
In her launch statement, Ms Sizani Ngubane, Director of the Rural Women’s Movement applauded MANCOSA for establishing the Centre and stated that the promotion of female leadership was a laudable move as women, especially those in the rural areas who are still side-lined from decision making processes. She then engaged in the highlight of the event, which was the joint cutting of the ribbon on the launch declaration frame by herself, Dr Claudine Hingston and a MANCOSA postgraduate student. Ms Ngubane then read the declaration on the frame thereby officially launching the Centre for Women Leadership and the MANCOSA Annual Women in Leadership Award. The award ended with an acknowledgement of the speakers and a vote of thanks to the guests by Ms Sumayah Noorgat from MANCOSA’s Publicity Unit.