An honest and critical discussion was had at a “The State of the Womxn” discussion.

The Wits South African Students Congress (Sasco) hosted ‘the state of womxn address’ panel discussion at Wits University’s John Moffart building on Thursday, August 8.

“We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or out of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph,” said Sasco’s treasurer Masego Rampa quoting Thomas Sankara as the event focusing on how women navigate different spaces opened. The all-female panel included Noma Gigaba, MEC Tasneem Motara, and Joy Phiri and was facilitated by Lwazilwaphesheya Khoza, a Wits student and project manager at Youth Lab.

“Representation is important,” said Phiri. “We must talk about the ones that broke the ceiling …. Lift as you rise,” said Phiri, in response to the question of woman wanting to retain the spotlight in political spaces.

She explained that the support that some people expect to be given to them should be extended to others. “The same support you want, you must give to her,” she said.

“In South Africa women get given ‘softer responsibilities’ because the expectation is for them to fail,” said Motara. “I can’t be reckless because I will ruin it for others who come after me,” she added.

There were some light-hearted conversations about stereotypes and the apparent attachment of women to men. “I am an ANC member, but I just don’t have that spirit,” said Gigaba as she spoke about her interactions with members of the ANC and their expectations for her to engage in political rituals because she is married to prominent political figure, former MP Malusi Gigaba.

Sasco member Thato Sakong asked the panellists about the outcomes of women empowerment talks. “Implementation is doing,” said Motara, “We are just not doing.”

Motara went on to explain that she is not a feminist but rather advocates for non-sexist policies. She went on to explain feminism as women wanting power over men verses non-sexism, as equality among the sexes, which had the women in the crowd reacting with disapproval. Phiri exclaimed that woman should “change the rules of the game because the bar is not set to accommodate you (referring to Sakong),” as the meeting came to an end.

FEATURED IMAGE: left to right) Joy Phiri, Noma Gigaba and MEC Tasneem Motara, engaging with topics around women’s issues at Sasco’s state of woman address. Photo: Tsholanang Rapoo.