East London-based NGO Afesis-corplan recently hosted their Shayisfuba Uzingce Mfazi campaign at the Hope Fellowship Church in Belgravia to raise awareness on women’s rights and safety.
Women marched to the Nestlé building in North End – who are backing the cause – where a special mural had been commissioned on Thursday for the campaign.
“As a woman leader myself, I know the plight of a woman who is a mother, grandmother, sister, friend and daughter and the things they have been going through,” Afesis-corplan executive director Nontando Ngamlana said.
“For years as an organisation, we have been thinking through how we bring women to unleash the power that is within them to fight their battles, but also to collect and to unite, so that we can fight bigger battles as a collective.
“We are fighting for space to be recognised as women,” she added.
Afesis-corplan is part of a nationwide campaign that has drawn women and others gender non-binary people from different corners of the region to demand that their concerns be placed at the centre of government decision-making.
“Feminism is a framework within which we look at governance and resource allocation, but we also look at societal behaviour. We are finding that women have always been told that they are not good enough,” Ngamlana said.
Campaign member Fatimata Moutloatse said the reason for the mural painting on Nestlé’s wall was to always have a tangible representation of feminism.
The importance of the mural physical representation of the painting is to show resilience, resistance and love.
The images illustrate women performing work as domestics, in factories and on the mines.
“We are trying to kill the stereotype of black women being known as always angry. Yes we are angry, we have every right to be. “But there is different kind of rage to this campaign, there is a gentleness to rage, but at the same time this rage is forceful, and also has a strong depiction of love,” said Moutloatse.
Mdantsane resident Vivian Skiet was one of the elderly women involved in the march who wanted her voice to be heard.
“I am part of this campaign because we as black women from previously disadvantaged areas are suffering and we suffer in silence because no one cares about us, and that needs to stop,” she said.
Nestlé East London factory manager Vince Giovanniello said they were proud to support a cause that empowered women in the community.
“As a caring organisation, we pride ourselves on promoting equal employment and entrenching values of respect for all our employees.
“They form an integral part of our business and the community as such we are extremely proud to celebrate their commitment and dedication,” he said.