Public Protector says it is time for African Women to claim their place at the main table

Delivering a keynote address at CEO Communications “Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government” awards, the Public Protector, Adv Madonsela said that it is our time as African Women to claim our place at the main table where Africa’s fate is being decided, where decisions on distribution of resources are being made and Africa’s contribution to the fate of the world as a whole is being determined. She said we all belong at the main table and shying away from the main table women would be dishonouring the women who came before them and failing to provide an example to the girl child.

The Public Protector reminded participants that this year we will be reflecting on 20 years of democracy and 20 years of the pursuit of gender equality and women’s participation in key decision making within the democratic South Africa. She added that women have continued to show high standards of excellence as equals to men and that they have the ability to think and lead.

She lauded women across Africa as pioneers, effective leaders and examples to young girls who have shown that it is possible and doable and is within their reach. She said the finalists are honoured to celebrate their bravery of choosing the path of self-definition and refusing to play victim or to be defined by someone else or by circumstances.

“In each field of excellence there are trail blazers who have paved the way. This generation is standing on the shoulders of giants and whenever we say it is not doable we are dishonouring the legacy bestowed on us by the women who went before us. One of those women is Queen Gwamile of Swaziland of whom it was recorded ‘she was the cleverest and wisest African leader, the writer had ever met,’ she said

The Public Protector said looking back at Africa’s history, women have led nations well and this continent has seen the bravery of persons such as Queen Nzinga of Angola, Princess Mkabayi of Kwazulu, Queen Asantewaa of Ghana and Basotho Queen Manthatisi. She said South African women such as Charlotte Maxeke, Mirriam Makeba, Helen Joseph, Winnie Mandela and Helen Suzman have also shown fortitude and resilience as leaders

Public Protector Madonsela said those that are being honoured today have made strides because they stand on the shoulders of many giants. She said they have been true to themselves, true to their legacy by refusing to be defined and defining themselves. She expressed her gratitude to the women who were being honoured and said because of them our countries and continent are getting better every day even though there is still war and rumours of war, hunger and starvation, and abduction of young girls.

“But because you are taking part at the main table and bringing your ideas into all spheres of life, I have no doubt in my mind that things will get better. Women of Africa have led before, for a time according to Helen Joseph and they were turned to tea makers. Sometime around the 50s, women told the men in this country that they are no longer tea makers and that it is time to lead with them.” she said.

She said it is time to reflect on what happened in 1956 when about 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings. These women had no cell phones, twitter or Facebook but they led effectively. She said the event is taking place shortly after Africa has celebrated 50 years of the African Union whose mission includes the African Renaissance, which is about ensuring Africa rises and takes its place among the continents of the world.

In conclusion, Adv Madonsela said women are leading effectively today and many of them were honoured at the event. She encouraged them to continue to lead and said through their leadership together with men in areas of governance, the economy and in all areas of life our countries and continent will continue to rise.

Issued by:

Kgalalelo Masibi
Spokesperson for the Public Protector
Tel: (012) 366 7006
Cell: 079 507 0399

Published Date: 
Wednesday, July 30, 2014