TO SEAL August as National Women’s Month, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) hosted a women’s breakfast where five speakers shared their experiences in their various capacities and journeys.
Port Elizabeth businesswoman, skills developer and managing director at Vision4 Academy Nosi Ncoyo was among the formidable women who inspired a packed hall at the Coega Vulindlela Village’s Mthawelanga conference centre last week.
The others were Michelle Bakker, who spoke on surviving breast cancer, Charmaine Keevy, who supported her husband when he went through penile cancer, Lindsay Ziehl, who addressed the group on the adverse effects of domestic violence and Lizelle Pretorius who gave family legal advice.
Ncoyo, a The Herald Citizen of the Year finalist in 2013, started her own business 10 years ago. She spoke about the challenges faced by women in the workplace.
The Kwazakhele-born entrepreneur noted that in spite of progressive clauses in the country’s legislation to address inequality in the workplace, such as the Women Empowerment and Gender Bill, there was still plenty to be done, as the gap was still wide.
“Empowerment for women in the workplace is still a drop in the ocean! Out of the 197 independent corporations in the world, only 17 are led by women. Out of the 37 ministers in the South African cabinet of ministers, there are only 15 women. It’s 40% and less than the minimum we’re actually gearing towards,” she said.
“What does this tell me and you? It tells us that if we are waiting on our male counterparts to make a difference for us, we still need to wait a little bit longer!” Ncoyo said.
She said there were so many external barriers in the workplace and beyond, preventing women from reaching their fullest potential. “It’s a pity that such barriers not only come from males, but from among ourselves as women too.”
Ncoyo added that the external barriers were mostly propelled by internal negativity: “The biggest naysayer is yourself!”
Programme director Charmaine Oosthuizen, impressed by the stature of all five speakers, said: “Strength, unity, solidarity, inner courage and fortitude are some of the words to use in describing these women. We will continue to celebrate women in our country not only to remember those before us, but also those who are among us and those who are still to come.” She said she hoped women left the function feeling empowered. – Balisa Ntloko