It was a morning of strength and celebration for more than 750 women who gathered at the Athlone Civic Centre in Protea Road last Wednesday.The five-hour event hosted by the City of Cape Town aimed to honour mothers and sisters doing exceptional work in their communities through the City’s pioneering Women for Change programme. Mayor Patricia de Lille who addressed the crowd said the City had recruited 750 women as part of the programme during the past year, and had since seen positive outcomes in various communities. To pay respect to the women hailing from areas such as Hanover Park, Athlone, Atlantis, Langa, Belhar and Gugulethu, De Lille spent an hour celebrating their success since joining the programme, before leaving for her next appointment.She expressed some words of encouragement, pleading with the women to continue taking leadership of both their homes and communities.“This project is close to my heart. I have met some of you (women) at various events, but I wanted to have an opportunity to celebrate all of you,” she told the crowd.“I want to pay tribute to you for the work you did by being part of the group of women in our first year of the programme. “Your work in your communities and on this project has proven what I always believed in, that government must not tell people what is good for them. “We (government) must take hands with our communities and listen to them and work with them to solve the problems in our communities.” The Women for Change programme has seen several women matriculate, benefit from employment and study opportunities, and take a stance against social ills in their communities. De Lille applauded the women for standing up against gangsters and ensuring that children and seniors are safe, among others, through different initiatives the women run in their communities.“You (women) all know what the dangers and social ills are in your communities, because you face them daily. “You are the women who must run after your children to help them, or to put food on the table. “You have been part of the group and you chose to say enough is enough. “You have brought life to this project’s motto of women rising above adversity and have the will and power to tackle issues, to build a better community. “This programme has seen phenomenal success and I thank you for the sacrifices you make to help us uplift our communities through various initiatives.” Mymoena Joseph from Heideveld, who attended the programme, said: “I appreciate this women’s movement as it gives unemployed and abused women the opportunity to not only speak up, but also take action against the wrongdoings in our households and in our communities.“We need more women to come on board. With a bigger group, we can achieve much more in our communities.“We believe in women leadership, and without the help of our mothers and daughters, our communities will forever be at a standstill. We salute De Lille for her efforts.”The women were treated to lunch and live entrainment after De Lille’s speech. Idols season 11 contestant Elvira Standili, and Gugulethu music band Azania, were present to entertain the crowd.Several councillors, including Gerry Gordon, Rashid Adams and Antonio van der Rheede, were also present to show their support.De Lille added that the City is currently finalising the recruitment process of a group of 972 women who will start the programme in more communities, in three weeks’ time. For more information, visit the City of Cape Town’s website at www.capetown.gov.za.