This Women’s Month, reader Thando Yokwane reminds us of a generation of women who, regardless of their situation, braved their fear and acted on what they believed to be right.
These strong women laid the foundation of the world we now live in, where women have the freedom to choose careers and manage their own finances, travel independently and hold leadership positions, and decide whether or not they want to have a family. Although these are great achievements and we are grateful and honoured to live in this time of freedom, we cannot afford to rest. We need to recognise the responsibility that falls on this generation continue along the path to emancipation and liberty and become change agents to build a better world for our descendants.
Anyone who has ever made a significant contribution to society will tell you that change is not easy, nor is it comfortable. Yet, as women we need to act, think and speak up despite our individual circumstances, and without considering the praise or criticism (or cultural norms) we might receive when we prefer to take the lead instead of be the submissive followers of rules and cultural norms. With a mission to create a better world, let us use our past and present pain for innovative thinking and application.
As Oprah Winfrey once said: “I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of a service, working hard and allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.”
While marching en masse to the Union Buildings in Pretoria may hold historic significance for us, it is our individual actions (no matter how insignificant they may seem) that will impact the whole in a way more profound way that we ever imagined. It is time to own our gifts. What is it that ignites the fire in your belly? Are you a champion for education or for women’s health issues? Are you a chef, an artist, a healer? What leadership qualities do you possess that can change the course of history?
Your grandmother’s secret recipe could start a multimillion Rand business employing other women. As a woman leader in a corporate position, have you done enough to ensure that the women in your company have access to breastfeeding or childcare facilities that can be replicated by other companies the world over? Your knowledge of African indigenous plants could create a successful skincare product, or you might have the simple but very important gift of being able to connect people. Don’t grind through your days without looking at you can do to effect change in our presently troubled political, economic and social systems. Your descendants will thank you for it.
I speak life to businesses and different ministries not yet started; to books that are yet to be written and the music not yet made; to new designs and modern health facilities not yet built; to ideas that will end disease, poverty and child trafficking in our continent.
By Thandolwethu Yokwana. Happy Women’s Month!