In one of the largest demonstrations that took place in South African history, 20 000 women of all races marched to Pretoria’s Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 to present a petition against the carrying of passes by women to the prime minister at that time, JG Strijdom.
The march against the pass laws was organised by the Federation of South African Women. The Federation famously challenged the idea that ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’, declaring her place, instead, to be ‘everywhere’. Although Prime Minister J.G. Strijdom was not present at the Union Buildings to accept the petition, the women of South Africa sent a public message that they would not be intimidated and silenced by unjust laws.
The first National Women’s Day was celebrated in 1995 after South Africa became a democratic nation, and the day was declared a national holiday. Since then, annual celebrations take place throughout the country on this historic day.
The past 24 years of democracy in South Africa have seen significant strides being made to ensure that gender equality becomes a societal reality. South Africa has received international recognition for these efforts and is currently ranked 19th in the world by the Global Gender Gap Index, a framework used by the World Economic Forum to measure the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities among countries in the fields of economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.
At MMS Group, we value the important role that women play, not only in our lives, but also in our firm.
OUR FUN FACTS ARE:
What does it take for women to succeed in the workplace today? What challenges do women face? And how do they find balance between work and family life?
We probed some of our female staff members on these issues and this is what they had to say:
How do you balance your work and personal life? Are you a partner, wife or mother and do struggle to find a balance between your commitments?
“Work will always be there, your personal life will always be there, every single person out there has that same struggle, don’t let anybody tell you it’s different. Prioritise when things get tough, and it always gets tough at some point. When it does, I sit back and think of what can wait and what can’t? Always start with the stuff you can get done in 5 minutes or less. Then everything that has a deadline. Then the rest. If it can die, feed it first!”
“It is a daily struggle to find a balance between the two. In the past, it was very difficult for me to find the balance, however, I have come to the realization that a women’s work never ends, therefore it is important to stop moaning and start making the best of what you have. It is also important to be nice towards yourself about what you have accomplished. We are stronger than we think, but we also need to have ‘’me’’-time to rewire and find peace within ourselves.”
“Yes! It is a struggle to balance these two aspects of our lives but thanks to the technology we have at our disposal, it is becoming a little easier. We can now do shopping online, pay bills and catch up with our friends and family on the go!”
What challenges have you experienced to get where you are today?
“I had to study part time while working full time and raising a little baby. It was everything but easy.”
“I have had quite a challenging road with regards to my articles. When I was at my worst, doubting myself, I had to realize that I worked hard to get where I am, therefore giving up was not going to happen. Once I made the decision within myself, I was able to face my fears and make a success of my career. The moment that you think of giving up, try to remember the reason why you have held on for so long.”
“It took me a while to realise just want I wanted to do with my life. With every failure, I had to struggle to actually get up and go on. It was easier to just let everything be than to work to get it done. After I qualified, I felt so stupid for not finishing it earlier.”
Do you have any advice for young women studying towards professional degrees?
“Follow your dreams, do not give up. Equip yourself with all the necessary skills you can acquire, whether big or small, it could make a difference. It’s almost impossible to make it alone, no man is an island. Work well with others no matter the age, everybody has something to offer and learning is a never-ending process.”
“Don’t let failure dictate who you are. Each hurdle is a new challenge, sodo whatever it takes to get over it.”
“Finish your studies as soon as possible after school but also make sure to enjoy life to the fullest.”
“Believe in yourself and remember that it is never a failure, but always a lesson.”
Do you have any advice for future women business leaders?
“Keep on keeping on, pass on your knowledge and skills to your fellow women. Empower and uplift others. Give as much assistance and advice as you can so that others may feel encouraged to do bigger and better things.”
“Ensure you set goals for yourself and do everything to get there. Never give up on your dreams.”
“Never give up. You are stronger than you think.”
“There is no time like the present, take the time to focus on yourself and what you want to achieve in life, it won’t get any easier once you have a husband and family to support.”
“Life happens, take it by the horns!”
Let us celebrate women this month! Remember, when women support each other, incredible things happen – as Serena Williams famously said: “Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.”
Happy Women’s month!