Embrace your inner strength and independence

2017-08-30 06:01
Bernadette Nel-Naude, Atlas Security’s community development manager.Photo:PHOTO24

Bernadette Nel-Naude, Atlas Security’s community development manager.Photo:PHOTO24

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AS the end of Women’s Month draws near, the focus is once again slowly moving away from what used to be perceived as the weaker gender.

Though women have slowly been eradicating that stereotype over the years, proving themselves capable of doing nearly everything men can and a few other things they cannot, many are still victims of abuse and oppression.

This year’s Women’s Month has seen an unusual amount of marches and protests taking place, all fighting the rapid increase in the abuse of women and children.

Several churches, organisations and groups are hosting workshops, meetings and other events to empower women, inform them of their rights and encourage them to become independent.

And what better time to embrace your innate feminine strength and tenacity as a woman than during Women’s Month?

One stellar example of independent women thriving in what is widely regarded as a man’s world, is the Atlas Security Control Room, a call centre that is manned predominantly by women.

Of the 74 staff members at the control centre, 62 are women.

According to Liza von Loggenberg, control room manager, the call centre staff mainly consists of women because “women tend to have more patience; they understand and have empathy. Women also stay calm in stressful situations.”

Von Loggenberg started working at the call centre 17 years ago as a controller. She believes they truly make a difference in society in general. “Ranging from being just an ear to listen to and being the bridge between the client and the response, we are usually the ones who more often than not resolve many issues over the phone without the need for response to get involved,” she said.

Control centre operators receive a minimum of eight weeks’ training and are required to pass pre-employment and random polygraph tests.

They deal with a wide variety of situations, including break-ins, house robberies, domestic violence and vehicle accidents.

“Although we do not measure the ratio of calls between men and women, I can say that it is often women with whom we deal, because they are usually more sensitive,” Von Loggenberg said.

Bernadette Nel-Naude, Atlas Security’s community development manager, added, “Women are perceived as soft targets and often put themselves in positions to be potentially victimised. Any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable you should react too. No matter how silly you might feel. Rather be safe than sorry!”

She frequently conducts safety workshops and talks for women and acts as the voice of Atlas Security in the Nelson Mandela Bay. She has been with Atlas for 11 years, having started out as a freelance representative.

“I work extensively with our operations team on the road as well, which allows me to understand threat and crime trends.”

Nel-Naude provided a few safety tips for ­women:

  • The first line of defence is always awareness. Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • There is safety in numbers.
  • When you go out at night, stay in groups
  • Always keep your vehicle doors and windows closed.
  • Park close to your destination and in a well-lit area.
  • Know the routes that you are driving.
  • Know your route to the nearest police station.
  • Keep your cellphone charged.
  • Always keep your car keys with you.
  • Do not engage with strangers.
  • Arm yourself with pepper spray.
  • Make sure you keep doors and windows secured at home as well.
  • Know the location of your panic buttons.
  • Arm you alarm.
  • Trust your instincts.

“As a woman in a mainly male-dominated industry, Women’s Month resonates deeply within me as we acknowledge and celebrate the strength, tenacity and diversity of women and how we are able to be nurturers, wives, business women and fierce decision-makers all-in-one, while making a difference and building a better future for our children.

“Once again confirming that as a woman, you are powerful, but as a sisterhood, we are unstoppable,” she concluded.

In the event of an emergency, contact the Atlas Security control room on 0861 585 585.

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