Placing a strong emphasis on empowering women and providing platforms that contribute to gender equality was the core celebration and observance of International Women’s Day on Thursday.
This was the message from several female empowerment organisations in South Africa that reiterated the need to confront the issue of patriarchy in acknowledging the role of women in society.
Using International Women’s Day as a point of reference, organisations highlighted the various issues that women still tackle daily in all sectors – despite being in a society that should be progressing.
Refiloe Seseane, founder of 18Twenty8, an organisation that seeks to uplift women’s education, said financial independence was the most important for empowerment.
“We have many examples of young women who are academically competent but forced to stay at home while they apply for funding or entry level jobs in order to earn an income to pay for their university education,” said Seseane.
She said the organisation aimed to promote young women through financial stability by hosting workshops.
“We recently had a personal budgeting and financial fitness session to make young women understand that a man is not a financial plan. We believe that an empowered young woman is her own blesser,” said Seseane.
Seseane said it was important to celebrate women every day by making them feel worthy and important.
“At 18twenty8, every day is women’s day – whether here at home in South Africa or anywhere else around the world. We always remind women of their strength, influence and beauty.”
The organisation also focuses on developing female leaders and teaching young girls that being a leader should not be defined by gender.
“The most significant barrier to female leadership is calling it ‘female leadership’. Removing ‘female’ implies leadership, unqualified, is the birth right of all genders. Leadership cannot, or should not, be defined by gender.”
The gender pay gap was also an unfortunate reality that disadvantages women, she added.
“The prices of goods and services, however, are not gender discriminate.”