Public Protector challenges women leaders to be more daring

Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela on Thursday challenged women leaders to use, as a guide, the experiences of their revered counterparts of yesteryear to navigate through the challenges they face today.

She was addressing a women leaders conference in Cape Town under the theme: "The Courageous Leader - Leading with Courage and Integrity."

The Public Protector advised delegates to explore the lessons drawn from the likes of Victoria Mxenge, Olive Schreiner, Sophie de Bruyn, Albertina Sisulu, Charlotte Maxeke, Helen Joseph and Helen Suzman to tackle the challenges they face today.

She said this while acknowledging the fact that challenges faced by today’s generation of women leaders were nothing compared to what their counterparts from the days of apartheid and colonialism had to contend with.

"At the height of institutionalized oppression of women in particular, they stood head and shoulders alongside their male counterparts, sticking their necks out even when danger was eminent," the Public Protector said. "They courageously played a significant leadership role in the emancipation of not only women but also the rest of the oppressed."

Among the lessons to be drawn from the experiences of such leaders, said Public Protector, were sacrificing their own comforts for the greater good, never shying away from making unpopular views even when it meant being isolated, sticking with what was right even in life-threatening situations and being prepared to pay the ultimate price of death.

She said, however, that today's women leaders need not pay such high prices as leading with courage and integrity in the context of modern times often meant leading organizations ethically, ensuring that there was no maladministration, corruption or malfeasance.

The Public Protector added that, despite having several deficiencies, modern South Africa was a better country to live in compared to the pre-democracy era.

She said the country's progressive Constitution prohibits gender discrimination, adopting a substantive notion of equality, which includes active promotion of gender and other forms of equality.

Beyond the Constitution, the Public Protector said several laws have been enacted to eliminate gender discrimination while advancing women's rights.

These included the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, Employment Equity Act, Domestic Violence Act, Sexual Offences Act, Maintenance Act and Recognition of Customary Marriages Act.

In addition, there were numerous policies, programmes and institutions that supported the advancement of women and gender equality. Among the institutions were the Commission on Gender Equality and the Women's Ministry.

Issued by the Public Protector South Africa.

For more information, contact:

Oupa Segalwe
Manager: Outreach, Education and Communication
Public Protector South Africa
Tel: 012 366 7035
Cell: 072 264 3273
Twitter: @PublicProtector
Facebook: Public Protector South Africa 

Published Date: 
Thursday, August 7, 2014