Public Protector Lauds Today’s Heroines
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela honoured women who were ‘today’s heroes’ as well as those of yesteryear.
Delivering a Women’s Month lecture on UKZN’s Howard College campus, Madonsela said while tribute should be paid to the women of 1956 (those who staged the defiant march on the Union Buildings), she urged the audience not to forget today’s heroes. She said the struggle faced by women in South Africa did not start and end in 1956.
She honoured women of the struggle such as Charlotte Maxeke and Olive Schreiner for their bravery in speaking out against things that were amiss in society.
Emphasising that today’s heroes had continued that advocacy, Madonsela spoke about Priscilla Jama - a human rights lawyer who she described as the ‘rockstar’ of defiance in legal practice; Victoria Mxenge – who took over her husband’s legal practice when he was murdered; and Wendy Appelbaum - one of Africa’s richest women.
She said these women did not seek to be heroes but were courageous, compassionate and used competence to solve problems.
She urged women to play their part and, in their own way, fight injustices in the country. ‘Women cannot be happy if there is human suffering.’
Madonsela said giving power to women should not only be about adding numbers, colour and class but also about changing the status quo. She reminded women given power that it comes with responsibility.
She also praised people like Frene Ginwala for ensuring South Africa got a new Women’s Charter.
Madonsela asked whether women of today had used the spaces left by those who were in parliament previously to make a difference.
During the question and answer session, she said South Africa was ready for a female president, however she had no intention of being that woman! ‘It is not about whether our president is male or female. I want a president who will expand the frontiers of justice, freedom and constitutionalism in this country.’