"Women will save South Africa" - Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah Winfrey attends the Dignity of Women Conversation at The University of Johannesburg
Oprah Winfrey attends the Dignity of Women Conversation at The University of Johannesburg

Media personality and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey was one of the speakers at yesterday's Isithunzi Sabafazi (the Dignity of Women) event that took place at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus as part of the Global Citizen Festival and as a tribute to the late Nelson Mandela.

She started off her powerful speech with memories of her time with the late Nelson Mandela, and she mentioned the idea they both had to start the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls with the hopes of eradicating poverty by educating young girls. 

"I believe that women are going to save South Africa," Oprah said as her motivation for building the school and striving to educate young girls. "I built a school to give girls who look like me, who came from backgrounds like me, who didn't have the means but had the brain power and the will to succeed - I wanted to give those girls a chance," she said. 

Adding to Oprah's sentiment, Graça Machel said that "women will heal this continent". 

READ MORE: Michelle Obama shares details about marriage and independence in her memoir, Becoming 

In speaking about the power of education, service and mentorship, the most empowering words in Oprah's speech were that women can change our society significantly.

At the launch of the feminist multimedia hub, #NotYetUhuru, earlier this month, one of the speakers mentioned that 57% of women in the country are set to vote in the coming elections, and this is only one of the reasons why it is necessary that our society and its leaders adopt a feminist mindset in tackling women's issues. 

Because women, as Oprah herself said, are the key to empowering and uplifting a society, it is both necessary and important for women to be recognised, protected, educated and to be given the tools they need to break through glass ceilings and pave the way to success for young girls.

The empowerment of women, after all, is a means to the liberation of a society. 

Following the countless protests, campaigns and manifestos that were created around women's issues this year alone - from gender-based violence to sexual and reproductive health - Oprah's and Graça Machel's speeches on the potential that women have and the importance of having their voices heard are reminders that there is so much more that needs to be done before we reach a state of uhuru as a country. 

READ MORE: Busi Mkhumbuzi has been making waves since she was in her teens 

Watch below: Is’thunzi Sabafazi (The Dignity of Women) conversation

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