Women’s Day – not just about the ladies

TEA TIME: Students celebrated Women's Day at the Accounting Student Council's  High Tea, today at the Wits Origins Centre.  From left:  Tebogo Selabe, 3rd year BAccSci, Suzan Lesame, 3rd year BCom Accounting,  Moleboheng Sefume, 3rd year BAccSci and Tinyiko Mareane, 3rd year BEconSci Photo: Lameez Omarjee

TEA TIME: Students celebrated Women’s Day at the Accounting Student Council’s High Tea, at the Wits Origins Centre. From left: Tebogo Selabe (3rd year BAccSci), Suzan Lesame (3rd year BCom Accounting), Moleboheng Sefume (3rd year BAccSci) and Tinyiko Mareane (3rd year BEconSci). Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Young women and their male counterparts were inspired to overcome challenges in pursuit of their dreams at the Accounting Student Council’s (ASC) high tea celebration of Women’s Day today at the Wits Origins Centre.

The ASC hosted two events, a ‘gentlemen’s’ breakfast and a high tea for the women.  The dual-event is new introduction to the celebrations of Women’s Day and was done to give a voice to men on this day.

Building character

“We need to also tell men to be responsible.  A lot of issues that women have is because of men, so we essentially trying to build men of character,” said Danki Mokwena, ASC Projects and Campaigns Officer.

Women were also told to create their own paths for progress and not to rely on men.  “In 1956 the female narrative was as under-represented as it is today.  Those women took a bold step to challenge authority,” said Khaya Sithole, Wits accounting lecturer and one of the event organisers.

“We don’t take enough action to proactively change women issues.  Women should rise to the challenge and make their voices heard.”

“We don’t take enough action to proactively change women’s issues.  Women should rise to the challenge and make their voices heard.”

Professional wisdom

Students were treated to the wisdom of successful professionals from a variety of fields, not just accounting.

Young men were inspired by the likes of actor and Wits alumnus Tumisho Masha, and medical doctor Vuyani Mhlami, who “achieved so much at a young age”, according to Siphesihle Mchunu, second-year BAccSci.

Businessman, Sisa Ngebulana told male students about the challenges he faced in his career and the lessons he learnt.  “It’s not about the money.  Leave a legacy.  Create something that can survive you and generations to come.”

Guest speaker, Zukie Siyatula, CEO at Thebe Capital, wanted more women to feel comfortable about being ambitious.  “They need to give themselves permission to be successful”, she said.

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Girls victorious in a guys debating world

 

FIRST WORD:  The women from the Wits Debating Union celebrate their triumphs. From left to right:  Jabulile Mabuza, Noluthando Yeni, Irene Mpofu, Angelinah Mofokeng and Catherine Seabe.                                                   Photo: Ilanit Chernick

FIRST WORD: The women from the Wits Debating Union celebrate their triumphs. From left to right: Jabulile Mabuza, Noluthando Yeni, Irene Mpofu, Angelinah Mofokeng and Catherine Seabe. Photo: Ilanit Chernick

FOR THE first time in its 15-year-old-history of competing, there are now eight women in the Wits Debating Union (WDU), or the Lions, as they are called.

The women debaters feel they can celebrate Women’s Day with tangible progress, having broken the traditional patriarchal past. However, another transition towards diversity is the fact that the union was once white dominated but is now fully multi-racial.

Chairperson Noluthando Yeni who feels debating has grown her confidence, quipped: “Men are looking for strong, intelligent women.”

BA student, Catherine Seabe, exclaims: “I feel like I can take over the world!”

All five girls joined their high school debating teams and decided to continue until university level. Angelinah Mofokeng, a first year BA Dramatic Arts student, said: “it was fun to come to Wits and find something other than the Arts to focus on”.

“Debating is a team sport. We don’t do it for individual achievement. We celebrate wins and losses as a team,” explained BSc student Jabulile Mabuza.
Yeni told Wits Vuvuzela that they don’t have any gender issues within the team because they train together and focus on “getting into the spirit” of debating as a “united front”.

“We definitely have a strong sense of pride being the only female members in the team but at the same time we have broken the gender barrier. We blend together like a family, nobody thinks they are better than the other.”

When it comes to relationships within the team, they stressed that the 22 male members are like brothers so they don’t see any “romantics” forming.

Some did say that they “enjoy flirting” with debating members from other universities at inter-university competitions.

Individual backgrounds and famous female figures have influenced some team members to be proud of their femininity and to create equality between genders.

IreneMpofu, a BComm LLB student was deeply influenced by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela who she viewed as “not defined by her gender but rather by her hard work in society”. Mabuza’s own background has inspired her both as a person and in her passion for debating.

“I’ve grown up in the rural areas and seen the wrongs within society, especially the disadvantages women have experienced. This has inspired me to change things. I believe in leaders without titles.”

Talking briefly about the WDU win at the South African Universities Debating Championship, all said they were proud to have seen three female debaters, including WDU’s Athi-Nangamso Nkopo make it to the finals.

It was the first time a win with women in the final had taken place. Yeni said they hope to encourage more young women Witsies to join the WDU through an all-women’s debating tournament happening later this year.

“We want women to be conscious about breaking the stereotypes and gender barriers. It’s all about making us females believe in each other,” she said.

Sisters in business

In commemoration of women’s month in South Africa, a host of woman business professionals, academics and leaders participated in the “Women in Business” conference on August 4. The conference, organised by the Wits Students Business Society (WSBS)  attracted a large audience of both male and female

Notable speakers were Wits’ Vice Principal of Research and Innovation Prof Mamokgethi Setati, African Fashion International’s (AFI) Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe and entrepreneurs Dr Kerrin Myres and Edith Venter.

BUSINESS MINDED: Owner of Resonance Consulting, Dr Kerrin Myres spoke about the world of entrepreurship.

First year Computational and Applied Mathematics student and WSBS vice- chairperson, Kelebogile Sephoti said the event’s “aim was to inspire, connect and bridge the gap between the working class and the students who wish to follow in the footsteps of those who have already made it”.

The conference attempted to showcase the achievements of exceptional women whilst celebrating Even though business and academics dominated the discussions speakers also touched on subjects like philanthropy, sisterhood and leadership.

Founder of GirlPower, an initiative aimed at showing the opportunities available in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields to young girls, Professor Setati engaged with the audience on matters of changing the society’s view about what the girl-child can and cannot do.

Setati also stressed the need for women to celebrate themselves in order to change the stereotypes and gender–schemas, sex-linked characteristics that are maintained and transmitted to other members of a culture, placed on them by society and their families.

Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, a huge attraction to the participants in the conference was not able to attend in person and instead gave a speech via a recording. In the presentation, she spoke of her passion for the business of fashion and the woman as a humanitarian.

DRIVEN: Allana Finley of AFI encouraged those attending to sell themselves and their ideas.

Representing AFI, Global Brand & Marketing Manager, Allana Finley encouraged students not to “pass up any opportunities that present themselves to you” as she related how she got to work for and with Dr Moloi-Motsepe.

Well-known South African socialite and event organiser, Edith Venter stressed the importance of peer-support among women in business and emphasised that “passion is vital” for any projects undertaken.