Resilient Women: Building Leadership from the Community Up

The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Community Engagement (UJCE) hosted an event on Tuesday, 30 August 2022, to close off women’s month and celebrate women across different industries.

The Empowerment Programme, titled Resilient Women: Building Leadership from the Community Up was MC’ed by UJFM’s Mpho Makgabutlane and included guest speakers Professor Boitumelo Diale, Mrs Nonhlanhla Metsing, Mama Refiloe, Dr Pearl Kupe and City of Johannesburg Councillor Colleen Makhubele.

UJ Vice Dean: Faculty of Education and Convocation President, Prof Diale shared her own story of resilience, working as a black female in higher education.

“I had to go through uncharted territories. I needed to accept myself in that space before anyone else could. I had to find my voice without fear, learn to be resilient, agile, flexible and adaptable in this space.”

Professor Boitumelo Diale

She added that the choices women made could either imprison them or give them their greatest freedom.  Prof Diale stated that being a servant and true leader begins with knowing where you stand and where you are going. She urged women to refrain from materialism and egoism as well as the scarcity of mentality.

“You were born an original, don’t die a copy,” she said.

Guest speaker Dr Pearl Kupe, attorney, global speaker, author and businesswoman focused her talk on raising leadership from the community.

“You cannot raise leadership unless you are in the community going to the community.”

She mentioned the importance of being able to identify challenges, mobilising communities, and then finding the champions.

“We are not here to compete, we are here to complete each other as people. It’s not a win unless we ALL win, now that’s Ubuntu.”

Mama Refiloe is part of the UJCE Community Based Organisation and is the founder of the Bambanani Inner City Farm. Through this project she has managed to feed and educate thousands of people with the help of a support structure and the passion she had.

“You teach a woman, you teach a nation. The love I see in women means a lot to me.”

City of Joburg Chair of Chairs, Councillor (Cllr) Colleen Makhubele reiterated what the other speakers reflected on and added on the qualities that make a resilient woman.

“Resilient leaders understand the times they live in, resilient women have cultural intelligence and can build bridges beyond their comfort zones, resilient people fight the system not people, resilient women are driven by purpose and passion.”

She explained that being driven and helping to develop others to be self sustainable was important.

In conclusion, Cllr Makhubele said the City had partnered with UJ to rebuild the City and were looking for volunteers and organisations to work with to get to different communities.

“You are the hands and feet of the government in those communities. Sometimes we can’t reach those places. How do we harness, come together and exercise our passion? By joining forces to reach people in the City.”

Guests were also treated to a poetry performance from UJ alum Urban Goddess before enjoying a lunch prepared by the students from the UJ School of Hospitality and Tourism.

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