At an event organised to mark National Women’s Day, on Tuesday August 9, the Baptist Church in Langa and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) encouraged women to become self-reliant and to start their own businesses.
Speaker after speaker said despite the endless efforts made by the government to empower women, there were still many challenges that women faced.
They said many still saw the role of women as being housewives and that they were not accessing opportunities or getting the recognition they deserved.
Some even claimed that South Africans had become complacent about transformation.
Co-founder of the I Can group, Mamikie Molapho, who delivered the keynote address, urged women to seize the opportunities made available by the government and also appealed to them to never look down on one another but to extend a helping hand.
She said it was a sad reality that after 22 years of democracy, women still had to work twice as hard as men if they wanted to progress, pointing out that there were qualified women who could be CEOs, but had been overlooked because they were women.
Ms Molapho said gone are days when women were not allowed to be self-dependent and run their own businesses. She emphasised that all they asked for were equal opportunities. And, she said, it should never be viewed as doing someone a favour when a woman was appointed to a senior post.
To thundering applauses, she said the core message she wanted to convey to women was that they needed to instil a sense of belief in themselves and know that anything was possible if they put their mind onto it. “When I joined forces with my husband when he started the I Can group, many people were asking my husband why he had involved a women in the business, but he knew that he did not need validation from anyone and years have gone and the business is growing from leaps and bounds.
“We are also appealing to young women to never let societal expectations of women determine their path. We need to inculcate a culture of doing things for ourselves,” she said.
Alex Thandikhaya Qunta, provincial manager of SEDA, said their aim had been to empower budding business owners with knowledge and let them know that they could approach them for funding.
He said they also wanted women to share their recipes for success.
“It is pivotal not just to celebrate the day by having a nice time, but it was crucial to use the day to advance women’s empowerment and let them talk about issues facing them.
“We need to have seminars and business networking sessions solely aimed at providing a platform for women to empower each other about how to succeed as business people,” he said.
Leader of the church, Ninih Zondi, said it’s been six years since they started hosting Women’s Day events aimed at equipping women with critical skills and she felt they were getting the desired results.
“We felt that as the church we were not doing enough to contribute to women’s empowerment and hence we stared this event.
“I hope that we will continue to do host this event because it is reaching out to women,” she said.