University of the Free State: Making men part of the journey this Women’s Month

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“Most people believe that Women’s Month celebrations are primarily for women, because issues discussed during these events are related to women. However, have you considered including men in these discussions to achieve gender equality? Do men understand how women want to be treated and cared for?” Pinky Kekana, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, spoke during the Women’s Month commemoration at the University of the Free State (UFS) South Campus on 16 August 2022.

This was the first gender-inclusive event, following the collaboration between the UFS Women’s Forum, South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID), and Grootvlei Correctional Services.

Some of the delegates who attended this prestigious event, included Dr Marinkie Madiope, UFS South Campus Principal and founder of the UFS Women’s Forum; Advocate Nthabiseng Sepanya-Mogale, Commissioner for Gender Equality: Free State province and Advocate at Oxford Chambers; Zola Thamae, Acting Head of the Free State Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation; and Commissioner Jacky Reid-Moses, Correctional Services Area Commissioner for the Free State and Northern Cape regions.

Following the welcome by Dr Molapo Qhobela, UFS Vice-Rector: Institutional Change, Strategic Partnerships, and Societal Impact, Thandeka Mosholi, Assistant Director: School of Open Learning, deliberated the significance of women. She emphasised that women do more than bear children; they are also specialists in their fields and should be regarded for various managerial roles.

“There are many opportunities for women, and men should not feel threatened when women occupy them; rather, they should support and encourage them, as they strive to be the best they can be. Generational equality should be used as a catalyst for us to drive gender equality. We need to be innovative and guarantee that boys and girls participate in things like domestic duties from a young age,” Mosholi stressed.

However, gender-based violence (GBV), sexual harassment, and murder are still significant issues, with various organisations trying to address and curb these socio-economic ills. Advocate Sepanya-Mogale said that it has become increasingly challenging to feel safe even in our own comfortable spaces. “If there are pastors and teachers out there who are taking advantage of our children, then we will continue to look over our shoulders. What happened to churches being our place of refuge and old generation teachers being faces of the community?” said Advocate Sepanya-Mogale.
All the speakers encouraged women to take a position in the community, solidify their relationships, assimilate into the world of innovation and 4IR, and invite males into conversations that serve women’s interests.

Educational session and future endeavours

In addition to the commemoration, this event was concluded with an educational session dialogue. This session was divided into four groups, including both males and females, tapping into real-life experiences. It addressed issues of peace and security, facilitated by SAWID; rehabilitation and integration of inmates into communities, by the Grootvlei Correctional Management Unit; financial management, by Standard Bank; and GBV, enabled by the UFS Women’s Forum.

The perspectives and experiences shared by the attendees will be collated by the facilitators and handed over to the Deputy Minister in the Presidency to guide her strategy and plan.


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