Whoever said women were weak was lying. Women are very strong. They build homes and raise families.
This was the message that reverberated through the halls of Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha when Ilitha Labantu held its 30th anniversary programme launch on Friday August 9.
The launch of their programme coincided with the celebration of National Women’s Day and was the first of a series of planned activities which will take place throughout the year to commemorate the existence of the organisation. Founder of Ilitha Labantu, Mandisa Monakali, said women were strong and had stood up to many challenges and overcame them.
She described them as fearless human beings who put the lives of others first and who would do anything to ensurethe well-being of others.
But Ms Monakali, who is affectionately called Sis Mandisa, said it was a sad reality that women were still abused.
She, herself, she said, was a survivor of abuse and recalled how years ago it was taboo to talk about the violence and abuse many women endured.
Added to this, said Ms Monakali, , was that instead of building each other up, many women abused each other.
Recalling her story, Ms Monakali said: “ I was beaten and abused while carrying a baby on my back.
“I was abused.I was once that woman 30 years ago,” she said.
Ms Monakali said many women were still abused and some churches even refused to allow women to be leaders or to preach.
She added that many people still did not want to work for organisations headed by women particularly black women and that funding remained a major challenge.
Director of Icamagu Heritage Institute and board member of Ilitha Labantu, Dr Nokuzola Mndende, said women were powerful and should never undermine their strength and abilities.
Dr Mndende urged women not to look down on one another but to be bold and self-reliant. She said it was time to challenge some beliefs and perceptions that women were not capable of doing certain things.
“Women, claim your crown. Women you are priceless and you posses so many skills and abilities,” she said.
Abuse survivor, Vivian Mzukwa, said she had been in an abusive marriage for years but a visit to Ilitha Labantu had changed her life.
She said the support and advice she obtained from the organisation had made her healing journey easy and brought happiness to her life.The organisations spokesperson, Siyabulela Monakali, said it was important to host the event during Women’s Month because they were an organisation which served women and children.
Their main event will be held in November.