South Africa: Saluting a woman of courage, vision and purpose

South Africa: Saluting a woman of courage, vision and purpose

Date: August 30, 2012
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Johannesburg, 30 August: One hot summer day, I found myself at Carlton Centre, Johannesburg where I had been invited for an interview. Nervous to meet the panel, I walked into the interview room to find three panellists waiting for me. Little did I know that one of the panellists would be my boss and later on the phenomenal woman I celebrate this Women’s Month.

When I accepted the post, I did not know that I had embarked on a journey that would shape my work destiny and influence my life over decades. And so began our lives that have always intercrossed.

I met this phenomenal woman during the unpredictable South Africa’s transition from apartheid to independence. Full of energy and purpose, she went to the most volatile places where opposing parties had violent clashes. The rest of the team would come back shaken after close encounters with angry protesters, but she would come back to the office with excitement and ready for the next deployment. To this day, she remains fearless.

I salute you, woman of courage and curiosity.

It did not come as a shock to me when this woman stood out from the rest and the team elected her to lead the newly formed constitutional body, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). The CGE is established in terms of Section 187 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in order to promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality.

While all the other bodies were still grappling with setting up new offices, CGE hit the ground running under her leadership. It became a vibrant body championing gender equality in the new democracy.

I salute you, woman of vision and purpose.

A proverb in my language says, “Otamukwaise ati mwikarire tugyende” which translates to “the one who is not involved in the wrestling/fight will say, hurry up, wrestle down your opponent and lets go.” Ineffective people are quick to criticise those who are doing well in something. My phenomenal woman, with all the hard work, became a target.

Any ordinary woman would have caved in after a lot of opposition. Not with her – she took up the CGE and endured a long court case which she eventually won. Her perseverance and endurance paid off.
I salute you, woman of resolve, fearless and unstoppable.

Leaving CGE paved the way to the beginning of a new era for her which she took head on. with sheer determination. With her fighting spirit, determination and tenacity, she bounced back to continue the fight for gender equality. In her backyard, she formed Gender Links, an organisation that has stood the test of time and remains a force to be reckoned with in Southern Africa.

I salute you, a woman who is a trailblazer.

She has scaled the walls of inequality and managed to bring the plight of women into the spotlight. She does not shy away from confrontation and has treaded where no one else has dared to tread. She makes things happen behind the scenes and has literally moved mountanis. With sacrifice, planning and intention, she finds the time, the zeal, and the energy to do what needs to be done.

She has fought her own battles but has not been deterred from her purpose in life.

I salute you, a woman ready to pay the price for the attainment of gender equality

She always finishes what she starts. When she sets her mind to do something, she does it with precision. Hard work is her middle name. She has the energy and enthusiasm of a youth both at work and in looking after herself. When I have gone dancing with her and other colleagues, she is always the last one to leave the dancing floor.

I salute you, woman of excellence and a leader.

She is a leader by example and you will find her with her team in the trenches, not afraid to get her hands dirty. She will not ask you to do what she herself cannot do. She has a strong personalityand will be firm when she is required to. She is nurturing and provides guidance to her colleagues. This woman has mentored many who have excelled at Gender Links and other organisations today.

I have been privledged to work under her leadership. She always challenges me, and always raises the bar when it comes to my work. Where I would have given up, she encouraged me to carry on and believe in my abilities. Working with her made me realize that when you set your heart on doing something – the sky is the limit.

The professional growth and character development of young women is close to her heart. She gives everyone the opportunity to grow and spread their wings if they are ready to do so. While she has made impcat in the lives of a few who can be easily named, she has changed the lives of many women in Southern Africa and beyond through her work at Gender Links. Some of these women she may never get to know or meet, but they appreciate her work.

May her candle burn brighter with the dawning of each day,

Her energy, zeal and drive be renewed with the passing of time,

May she daily wake up to follow and realise the vision and dream of gender equality.

The world applauds you.

I celebrate you.

Your two beautiful daughters and family praise you.
You have fought the good fight,

Your work, always up to sratch and detailed bears testimony.

I salute you,

Sister, friend, leader and motivator.

You are the phenomenal woman in my life, Colleen Lowe Morna!

Vivien Bakainaga is the Human Resources and Assets Manager at Gender Links. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, special series on celebrating phenomenal women, bringing you fresh views on everyday news.


0 thoughts on “South Africa: Saluting a woman of courage, vision and purpose”

PETA Mashinini says:

Yes she is a woman of strength and great courage. Well done Colleen.

Nameazharuddin says:

exciting fucks

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