ROUNDING off Women’s Month on a high note, the Weekly chatted with Anamika Maharaj-Eraman, a formidable Tongaat woman who has risen above her trials to rack up a number of noteworthy achievements in her life. Q: Who are you and what does Women’s Day/Month mean to you? A: I am Anamika Maharaj-Eraman, a two-time UKZN graduate also holding a diploma in sales and marketing and a diploma in management. I am a woman of the corporate world, the owner of a 20-year-old modelling academy and finishing school, internationally qualified makeup artist, Reiki master and most importantly, a proud mother of two gorgeous children. I was raised as a true Rajputh daughter to be an alpha female and to possess a powerful, proud, independent and fiercely courageous character and impeccable inner strength. One who stands up and speaks her mind not only for herself but for those I love and those weaker than myself. My amazing parents never saw any difference between a son and a daughter. In fact, very often, I perceive myself to be my parents’ son. My dad, Roy Maharaj, always pushed me to achieve success at a faster pace than a man. I am a self-made woman who is extremely ambitious. All my adversities in life have propelled me to emerge even stronger, all because of my strong, grounded upbringing. To me, Women’s Day is a powerful platform aimed at recognising the plight of women as well as their achievements and celebrates the resilience and tenacity of women while excluding the divide of race, ethnicity, economic, social, political and cultural standing. Q: What does it mean to be a woman in the society you live in? A: I am extremely proud to be a woman, especially in this country, when history is still in the making. Finally we’re at a point where women are no longer locked out of the world of opportunities. However, we are far from stating that we enjoy equality as a gender. Until unequal pay, sexual harassments and sexism meet their end, women cannot enjoy the luxury of considering themselves liberated nor as having equal rights as men. Women’s Day arouses mixed feelings of pride and sadness within me. Pride, because women have eventually, after centuries, received recognition as fundamental contributors to the socioeconomic climate in this country. Sadness, because it is unfortunate to see how easily women lose their grasp on their own importance and value while placing everyone else in their lives first . Q: Which women are you inspired by in your local community, and globe? A: Among the numerous celebrated and admired women in my life, without sounding like an overused cliche, my mother, Sindhu Maharaj, definitely spearheads that list. As a wife, daughter-in-law and mother at a young age, she fulfilled each of her roles and duties impeccably. She is the paramount embodiment of love, self-sacrifice and generosity.I also bow in great respect to Mahathma Suvidhya Baiji and all the powerful women at Manav Dharam, who are largely responsible for me standing as the strong women I am today. I also have immense respect and admiration for all the women who are silence breakers in the “#MeToo” movement, women who found the courage to speak out and are encouraging others to raise their voices and stand up against sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. I admire any woman, regardless of her social standing, who encourages and supports other women. Q: What are the “women’s themes” that still need greater awareness? A: It is undoubtedly abuse of women which presents itself in many ugly ways, be it verbal, emotional, sexual, psychological, financial or physical abuse. It is a brutal reality that in today’s “evolved” society, we still get men who, in the hope of suppressing the voices of women, use sexual harassment and sexual abuse to stigmatise and ostracise women beyond belief. Q: What message would like to send to women in your community? A:Recognise the unique, beautiful and talented women you were born to be. Don’t settle for less than the best in life. Life is far too short to waste it being unhappy and putting up with nonsense. Read and learn as much as you can – it’s a great investment in yourself. Look for a lesson or blessing in every experience. Be a strong, empowering woman who straightens another woman’s crown without pointing out to the world that it was crooked.