GENERATIONAL LEADERSHIP

129
Picture: From top left is Charlotte Maxele, Lillian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Mandela, Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka and Thuli Madonsela. (Photos:History online).

The Women’s Anti-Pass Campaign and the Women’s Charter became the encouragement that gave buoyancy which decades of women struggled responsively, underground and in exile until Apartheid was crushed in South Africa. The struggle for democracy and gender equality is constructed on the underpinnings of struggles by generations of women and men. However research shows that regardless of the increase of women in the work force, women are still under-represented in positions of power and leadership. The research indicates that “the number of women occupying parliamentary and governmental positions in South Africa increased from 28% in 1994 to 30% in the 1998 elections” and the increase continues to be steady.

There are currently ongoing debates on whether women have unlike leadership flairs and traits than men, nevertheless great leaders and activists emerged in the 1950s many of whom sacrificed a whole heap over long periods at great cost to themselves to help our country in the struggle for freedom. This country has been held together by the leadership of women over the years and their contribution has multiplied through generations.

In 1905 Charlotte Maxele became the first South African black women to receive a Bachelor’s degree, she became the first parole officer and ran an employment agency for black women. She was an activist against pass laws and a unionist. In 1908 Cecilia Makiwane became a nurse and was the first black professional nurse in the country. Winnie Mandela graduated from Jan Hofmeyer School of Social Work in 1955 and became the first black medical social worker in South Africa. Lillian Ngoyi gained international respect as a radical opponent of apartheid in the 1950s. She is greatly known for her part in the 1956 women’s march against pass laws. She was the first woman to be elected to the executive committee of the ANC. Albertina Sisulu became National Co-president of the United Democratic Front in  its foundation in 1983. Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka was the first woman to hold the position of the deputy president of South Africa in 2005. Women such as Thuli Madonsela continue to influence South African politics and processes of society.

Some, such as Tina Sideris argue that “the unique relationship women have to domestic institutions puts them at the center of the battlefield, in situations of war and political repression, and gives them a pivotal role in social reconstruction in the aftermath of conflict… However, ordinary women continue to occupy the marginal spaces of society, and suffer high levels of economic and social vulnerability. The vulnerability of women is starkly illustrated by the fact that violence against women is widespread and has become ‘normative’ in social relationships.” This is true and evident in contemporary society all over the world however this notion portrays only a half -baked representation of the whole of women.