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23 August 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Albert van Biljon
Rolene Strauss
“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,” Rolene Strauss quoted from Galatians 6:4.

“Are you allowing yourself to be measured by society’s version of the perfect woman? Is that woman called ‘Perfect’ stealing your self-confidence, your potential, your joy, and your life? Are you allowing that measuring tape to measure you and tell you you aren’t good enough? I believe that as women it is time to stand up and say: ‘No, Perfect – you can’t steal my self-confidence.’ ”These were the opening words of the University of the Free State (UFS) Women’s Breakfast guest speaker, Rolene Strauss.

The measuring tape called ‘Perfect’

Making reference to her personal experiences from being a little girl with big front teeth and skinny legs, to growing into a teenager and having her waist measured, and going on to becoming a beauty pageant contestant, a wife, and a mother. Strauss shared the many ways she has been subjected to society’s unattainable standards. “That measuring tape suffocated me. I realised that there has to be more to being a woman than constantly trying to be perfect.”

The Kovsie alumna, medical doctor, entrepreneur and title holder of both the 2014 Miss South Africa and Miss World competitions, spoke to 820 women on the Bloemfontein Campus on 22 August 2019.

On coming together to uplift each other

Strauss also stressed the importance of planting the seeds of confidence in one another. “The quality of yourself as a woman depends on the quality of the women around you,” she said.

Susan van Jaarsveld echoed Strauss’s sentiments. In her capacity as Senior Director of the Department of Human Resources, which is the official host of the UFS Women’s Breakfast, Van Jaarsveld extended a warm welcome to our guest speaker. Borrowing the words of the late American author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, she reiterated that “women are the real architects of society”.

Paying tribute to women of Kovsies

Some former Kovsies who were also celebrated included Gerda Steyn, winner of the 2019 Two Oceans and Comrades ultramarathons; Madam Justice Mahube Molemela, Judge President of the Free State Division of the High Court, Dr Susan Vosloo, South Africa’s first female heart surgeon; Karla Pretorius, player of the 2019 Netball World Cup, Caroline Grace Brüssow, one of South Africa’s top songstresses; and Crystal-Donna Roberts, award- winning actress.

Kovsies continue to walk in the footsteps of excellence to demonstrate respect for the thousands of women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 9 August 1956. In the spirit of honouring women of the past, present, and future, Van Jaarsveld reminded all the guests that they were valuable, powerful, and deserved every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve their dreams.

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