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27 August 2018 Photo Sonia Small
Prof Thuli Madonsela persuades women to pursue their purpose
Discovering that she was “pretty” for her purpose gave Prof-Adv Thuli Madonsela’s life direction.

What does embracing womanhood mean? For Prof Thuli Madonsela it is about loving yourself and whatever you believe is your purpose in life. 

“All of us are designed for our purpose and are fit for our purpose, you should embrace that and make the best of it,” said South Africa’s former Public Protector in her keynote address to the Women’s Breakfast. In commemoration of Women’s Month, the University of the Free State (UFS)’s Employee Wellness Division hosted the annual event on 21 August 2018 where 900 women gathered under the theme: ‘Embrace your womanhood.’ 

Being a woman today


Law Professor and Law Trust Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University, Prof Madonsela, urged the audience to look beyond the exterior and recognise “that we as individuals have a lot in common”. Speaking of unity in diversity, she praised some of the giants on whose shoulders modern women stand, such as Charlotte Maxeke, Olive Schreiner, Una Wookey, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Helen Joseph, Pam Golding, Bessie Head, and Ellen Khuzwayo.

These leaders are the epitome of following the purpose of “embracing everyone’s humanity and challenging things that diminish the humanity of others”, according to Prof Madonsela.

Remaining resilient and resolute 

Despite having to contend with a patriarchal system and face challenges such as gender-based violence, femicide, poverty, inequity, media stereotypes, as well as poverty, women continue to rise. Prof Madonsela called for women to capitalise on positives such as freedom and possessing a certain degree of power, legal equality, playing a role in political spaces, economic progress, and owning a public voice.

Drawing inspiration from her humble beginnings and the lessons learnt in leadership, Prof Madonsela conveyed a simple message to all women: “You are exactly as you should be. You are a perfect expression of your creator’s magnificence. You were created for a purpose and whatever you do, just step up and pursue your purpose.”

A word from an inspired woman

It was a memorable event for Burneline Kaars, Head of Employee Wellness. “This year it was an honour to host Prof Madonsela who could share both her academic background and professional experience. She accomplished this by skilfully incorporating lessons from our country’s history and her passion for justice,” she said.

News Archive

Race, technology, and maritime labour in the 19th century
2016-06-23


Prof John T. Grider

 

“When employers
impose
worker identity,
it creates problems.”

What does identity mean to people today, and how is it formed? Religion, politics, race, ethnicity, and gender make up individual and community identity. However, Prof John Grider (University of Wisconsin – La Crosse) is of the opinion that employment moulds our identity, since we spend so much time on the job.

Prof Grider joined the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) on the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses to discuss his research on the maritime industry, published in his book, Foreign Voyage - Pacific Maritime Labour Identity: 1840 to 1890. “When employers impose worker identity, it creates problems,” he said. Particularly, this “creates instability in communities, and a vulnerability and insecurity amongst the employees”.

To illustrate his point, Prof Grider expanded on the history of 19th-century Atlantic sailors, a highly-skilled workforce, who failed to adapt to changes in their labour environment. Initially, the sea-faring community was very diverse racially. However, as the Pacific, and particularly Asian, marine community gained precedence, this tide turned to such an extent that, in 1886, the Atlantic sailors formed their own Coastal Seamen’s Union in San Francisco, causing a split between Asian and non-Asian sailors. Atlantic sailors had failed to integrate with the new technology of the day (steam power), nor had they accepted the demographic changes that flooded their community rapidly with cheap labour from Chinese shores. 

Prof Grider highlighted the need to maintain an adaptable mentality in the ever- and rapidly-changing labour world, since division amongst workers could lead only to further exploitation of the workforce.

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