Bongiwe Fikizolo – South Africa

Bongiwe Fikizolo – South Africa

Date: July 1, 2015
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I grew up in a very strict, traditional household where the man’s voice is the last. I studied and learned to live my own life in my own way, but not really moving away from how I grew up.

At the age of 14, I joined politics. I found it very different from my background. There is freedom of speech, freedom of choice, actually freedom in every aspect of my life. I had a challenge of balancing my way of leaning between being a Christian, politician and a traditionalist.

I had to become strong to draw the lines. Being vocal and bold and sticking with my facts every time helped to handle issues of patriarchy at home. Even politically, it was still a patriarchy-dominated situation. Even in my church, men had a bigger voice than women. Policies of my organisation did not give me any choice to be submissive and fearful. I became aware of gender policies and I became a gender activist.

Politically, at the beginning, it was not easy, especially for other women. Always judging me as someone who does not respect men. Mostly men could not stomach me being bold and vibrant. However, what made me stronger was reading relevant documents, for example, the constitution. This taught me about my rights, and I knew I was making the right choices.

Through equipping myself with knowledge, I gained confidence. I used all sorts of media like listening to radio, television and reading newspapers; this also boosted my ego. I became a public rep (counsellor), and there I had to deal with community bread and butter issues. I became able to handle the pressure. My attitude keeps me moving by focusing only on the positive sides of everything.

After I attended a Gender Links workshop, I became more powerful, strong, and better able to handle reading to learn. I’ve become humble and a good listener. Gender links came at the right time, but wrong time in politics of elections. My acceptance of change and ability to move on, came through the Gender links. The community as well played an important role. Thanks to Gender links for empowering me.


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