Gabisile Tshabalala fights maternity discrimination with #SoWhatImPregnant

Actress Gabisile Tshabalala | Image: Twitter

‘We need employers to understand that motherhood doesn’t stop us from performing and that it is unlawful to fire us because we are pregnant,’ she says.

While the rest of the globe celebrates love in all its forms, actress and host of Moja Love’s gossip show TMI Gabisile Tshabalala is using her second pregnancy to shine a light on workplace discrimination against pregnant women with the hashtag #SoWhatImPregnant.

Tshabalala has long been an advocate for pregnant women and mothers knowing their rights and has used her various platforms to distribute all the information she can, but she ramped things up in celebration of pregnancy awareness week and stated: “This week is pregnancy awareness week. Let’s talk about how women have it hard in these streets.”

She went on to share statistics related to women, pregnancy and the workplace via her Twitter.

She then asked her followers to share their own experience of maternity discrimination with her before sharing a number of labour law facts with her followers in a “did you know thread”.

Unbeknown to her fans, Tshabalala had been expecting all along and she announced that she was expecting her second child in a comedic skit to launch her #SoWhatImPregnant campaign.

In the skit, she’s approached by a “fan” who reprimands her for being pregnant, stating that “they” are going to fire her again – in reference to her unceremonious exit from the soapie Scandal! where she originally played the role of Gontse. Tshabalala reportedly left the role after finding out she was pregnant, although rumours were circulating in industry circles that she had been fired.

This she later confirmed on Twitter and in an interview with the Citizen.

She also used the experiences she collected from her followers and compiled into a video montage to bring awareness to how women experience pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination in the workplace.

Speaking to the Citizen, Tshabalala revealed that she had initially thought about revealing the news of her pregnancy on Christmas and New Year but felt it was not the time. She was also just bored by the idea of a generic pregnancy reveal.

“I didn’t want it to be one of those cliche reveals where I pose half-naked. I hate posing half-naked first of all!” said Tshabalala.

She then decided to meet up with her management and publicity team to conceptualise a pregnancy reveal with a difference. It was then that she confided in her manager about the workplace experience she had after finding out she was pregnant with her first child.

Tshabalala could not confirm how long she had the idea for the campaign in mind but said she always knew she wanted to do more about the issue.

“I want women to know their rights,” she exclaimed.

She confirmed that she had professional assistance in researching the facts and stats she has been sharing and adds that she would be open to lending her voice to people in the labour and human resources sectors who are looking to advance maternity policy in the workplace to ensure it is more accommodating for and protectant of working moms.

She concludes the interview by stating that Moja Love has been great to her during this time which is also what has allowed her the freedom to explore her campaign.

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