South African women in film honoured

12 August 2015

It is important that women tell their story, South African actress Xolile Tshabalala said at an event that honoured women in film and fashion.

Tshabalala and other actresses, such as Terry Pheto, were among the guests invited to the function yesterday by Minister Susan Shabangu of the national Department of Women. Speaking at the launch of Women’s Month on 30 July in Pretoria, Shabangu said that weekly events would be held to celebrate South African women.

Week one would celebrate women in fashion; week two would examine women in the film industry; week three would focus on the trafficking of women and children and the exploitation of women; week four would be concerned with women’s economic empowerment.

The theme of Women’s Month this year is “Women united in moving South Africa forward”. The month runs every August, with Women’s Day an annual national public holiday on 9 August. The day marks the Women’s March against apartheid laws, specifically against the law requiring all black women to carry pass books, which took place on 9 August 1956.

Yesterday’s gathering was updated on social media, with @Dept_of_Women tweeting that Tshabalala said it was vital she told her story. “Nothing gets told about women who were affected by the struggle, but men’s stories are everywhere.”

She also said that woman could not always be supporting actresses of male actors.

Sibongile Mkhabela

Shabangu took the time to acknowledge Sibongile Mkhabela, the only girl arrested during the 16 June 1976 student uprising in Soweto. Mkhabela was an executive member of the Soweto Students Representative Council and general secretary of the South African Students Movement.

Speaking to Play Your Part, Mkhabela described that day: “I remember when we were marching, we were coming from Naledi, that was my high school, and it’s further down in the west, and Hector Pieterson died, I think, more to the south.

“And as we were marching we got the message that Hector Pieterson had died. For me that was a defining moment, if there were defining moments, and that sense of loss. just never left me,” she said.

About the event, Shabangu said she was honouring the two industries of film and fashion because she felt they had been neglected.

Women in the boardroom

Meanwhile, at a separate event to mark Women’s Month, African Development Bank’s special envoy on gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, a South African and former politician, took part as a speaker in the WeLead Women’s Leadership Mini- Conference on 7 August in Johannesburg. The theme was: “We Are the Leaders We’ve Been Waiting For.”

According to the bank, the conference gathered high-profile speakers to address women’s leadership in technology in Africa.

Fraser-Moleketi shared findings from the African Development Bank report Where are the Women: Inclusive boardrooms in Africa’s top-listed companies. She urged the tech industry to promote more female board directors in order to increase competitiveness and to contribute to inclusive growth in Africa.

“We need more women in boardrooms to enhance the competitiveness of the continent,” she said. “Africa will not achieve its economic transformation successfully without the full integration of women, from the smallest companies to the top-listed ones.

“Diverse boards make more efficient companies, a range of recent research and data state it overtly. The research outlined shows that the transformation is starting to happen.”

Transformation is starting

The outlook was positive and Africa was number three at a global level, behind Europe and America, she added.

“But almost 33% of African listed companies have no women sitting on their boards. Nonetheless, this creates an incredible opportunity for the tech industry as it is a fast-growing sector, particularly in Africa. In the report the telecoms listed companies have 9% women board directors, almost one for each of the 10 companies surveyed,” said Fraser-Moleketi.

“South Africa, number two in the report, has an elaborate suite of efficient government policies clearly promoting equality and diversity. For example, quotas for state-owned companies. But it might not be enough.”

Source: SAinfo reporter