Women in Politics and Society discussed at Seminar
A discussion around the topic of Women in Politics and Society was organised by the Society of Political Science Students (SOPSS) in collaboration with the Media and Cultural Seminar Series against the background of the recent Women’s Month celebrations and reflections.
The panel included HIV activist and UKZN PhD Candidate, Ms Delarise Mulqueeny; politics lecturer, Dr Lubna Nadvi; UKZN politics student, Mr Tigere Muringa, and Media studies lecturer, Ms Luthando Ngema.
Reviewing the role of women in society and reflecting on her personal journey, Mulqueeny said many cultural practices in various societies placed women in disempowered positions. In light of this, she addressed the systemic and internal oppression that women faced, relating it to the puller-down syndrome.
‘Women put themselves down. An example is in 2013, when the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) President, Angie Motshekga, said the ANC was not ready for a female president. We are holding onto limitations instead of grabbing opportunities. We must empower each other in order to succeed,’ said Mulqueeny.
Responding to Mulqueeny’s declaration, Muringa stated that the 21st century was the Century of Women. ‘There is the ongoing increase in gender equalities but women are to be blamed to an extent for not fighting the patriarchal system.
‘They lack confidence to challenge the system and wait on men to effect change. This doesn’t apply to all women but this mind set needs to change. Men also need to value women. Power is not derived from disempowering women.’
Muringa said patriarchy was still entrenched in society and in order to dispel the system and create greater gender equality, early childhood development programmes should be introduced to educate and pave the way forward for women empowerment and gender equality.
Ngema said women had the power to work towards being great leaders. ‘We need to accept and acknowledge our role in society. There should be ongoing constructive conversations to empower women.’
Assessing the historical power and the role women play, Nadvi reflected on the symbolism of the 1956 march relating it to the present day situation in terms of dignity and self-respect and the powerfulness and resourcefulness of women.
‘We are faced today with similar issues such as lack of service delivery for housing, education, and health-care. That same sense of urgency, mobilisation, engagement and protest displayed by those women in 1956 should be utilised to address these issues. Young people should be the agents of change much like those strong women were in 1956,’ said Nadvi.
The seminar was highly successful with many students believing that constructive conversations around women empowerment would educate and allow for change.