Creating a national psyche for leadership

2012-08-04 11:21

The Progressive Women’s Movement SA recently had its first conference after being founded six years ago. Deputy Economic Development Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize was elected convenor

How is the Progressive Women’s ­Movement SA (PWMSA) different from the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL)?

The PWMSA was established in 2006, mainly because the ANCWL is linked to a political party. Also, the women’s league does not own the gender equality issues.

The idea was for women of South Africa – from political parties, media, faith communities to professional and young women – to come together to talk openly about these issues without fear of crossing political party lines.

We don’t want it (the movement) to be like an NGO; we want people to take its voice seriously and we want to influence policy, hence you have to have a political leader at its head.

Do you think the PWMSA can be more ­active than it has been in the past six years?

The PWMSA has picked up on a project to train women in using computers, and it also partnered with the UN to look at women and peace.

While they were formalising the ­establishment of the organisation, they had been setting up provincial leadership. The new leadership really has an opportunity now to consolidate.

The PWMSA suddenly seems to be ­revived before (the ANC’s elective conference in) Mangaung. At its conference three weeks ago, I saw some pictures of women ­holding up two fingers while singing when President Jacob Zuma addressed them. Is there a danger that the PWMSA can be used as a lobbying tool by ANC leaders?

Women were really excited when they saw the president. I must say, they even started singing about him and then he ­disciplined us, saying: don’t sing about me, sing in your own name (as women).

Women of South Africa are highly ­politicised. They just can’t help separating gender equality from politics.

Do you think women in powerful positions are really making a change?
Some women are really committed.

While pushing for gender equality in terms of our numbers, we must push a bit harder for transformation of structures and ­organisations to create a conducive environment for women to flourish.

Meetings are at a time when women are worried about putting a meal on the table. A transformed organisation will not have a meeting at a time when it doesn’t suit a woman.

How can the ANC as a party become more female friendly?

Maybe it is up to us to find a way of political education to really focus on women to understand the revolution (for gender ­parity) within the revolution (towards a democratic society).

You need that consciousness from young women not to accept anything that doesn’t fit in with (equal representation). Also, ­organisations like the PWMSA need to work harder to produce a national psyche for female leadership.

We need to work on that national psyche for women’s structures so that women in church and the media can take that responsibility to show that women can provide solid leadership.

We also need to make a conscious effort to remind people that patriarchy is deep-seated. This is socially created and people reach a point where they think this is how it is supposed to be. We need to change it.

Why is the ANC the only party pushing for gender equality?

We need a law to push for 50-50 representation so other parties can also do it.

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