Student leaders from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) were invited to a session on empowerment and leadership, hosted by the Alumni Network at the School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH) on the Auckland Park Bunting Road Campus, in celebration of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, 13 August 2013.
Dressed to the nines, with the sound of the saxophone adding to the atmosphere of class and style, the ladies who attended the Alumni Network Women’s Day event were welcomed by the head of the Alumni Network, Dr Zodwa Magwenzi.
She reminded them that even though August is Women’s Month, women shouldn’t expect people to do something for them, but should rather use this time to change themselves for the better.
“Women’s day events should entertain and empower, and we should engage and enjoy and reflect on ourselves as women, and on how we can improve our present and our future,” Dr Magwenzi said.
She told the students to remember that the opportunity to change does not lie outside of them, but rather within. Cheering in agreement, the entire room repeated in one voice: “The opportunity to change starts with me!”
Guest speakers included Lea-Anne Stanton, Renault Advertising, Brand and Sponsorship Manager; Lerato Tshabalala, Editor of True Love magazine; Catherine Constantinides, former Miss Earth South Africa; Jacqui Maphala, Producer of Sista’s Talk, with a performance by Kiku de Buck.
Constantinides told of her humble beginnings, lost scholarships and her promise to provide a tertiary education for her younger siblings. She also shared experiences of her kidnapping in the Middle East and how she found herself in the midst of a human trafficking syndicate, sharing the story of her daring escape.
“We as women do not do enough to stand by and support our sisters. Women everywhere are still trapped behind very high walls, both physically and psychologically and this needs to stop,” she said.
The stories and experiences of Tshabalala resonated with each woman in the room, as she shared her fears of when she was about to graduate, her struggles to find a job, despite excelling in her studies, and the risks that she needed to take in order to succeed.
“There are some things that people never tell you, and you learn them along the way. You need the persistence and passion to know that you deserve the best,” Tshabalala told the students.