Women Empowerment Worldwide | South Africa

“South Africa strives for women empowerment”

In this “Women Empowerment Worldwide” series for House of Notoire, women empowerment sceneries all over the globe will be researched and discussed with you. My ambition is to enlighten and inspire you with facts & figures on women empowerment you didn’t know yet - but which should definitely be a part of every girl’s cultural education. During the week I’m involved with TheNextWomen, where I’m responsible for the TNW women’s network and all of the events related to that. During the weekends I’m a freelance creative that loves to write about all things girlbossy. In between that, I’m a true globe wanderer and I try to discover new places as often as I can.


In this, third edition of the series, I will discuss the status of women empowerment in South Africa. Since my mother-in-law lives in Langebaan, South Africa, I got the chance to observe the culture from up close in december 2017. The first thing that struck us, was that the aftermath of the “Apartheid” (the racial segregation the took place in South Africa from 1945 - 1990) was still so very visible. Especially on the countryside, a common sight was a white man picking up “his” colored workers. The racial segregation seems to be rooted so deeply in South-African culture, that this is not a scenery locals seemed to be put off by.

Nevertheless, women empowerment seemed to be in a more advanced state in the country than you (I, certainly) would think, based on this still quite present racial segregation. Social groups striving for equal rights for men and women are present in a great number. “She Says” for example, is a women’s network for women in the creative field. It’s a worldwide organization, founded in 2007. The network has chapters in 40 cities around the world, hosts events that are a blend of networking, mentorship and inspiration. Meetups in Cape Town, South Africa, are only a handful among the many organized events. Besides that, women empowerment is high on the agenda at the government, since the under-representation of women at the executive level in the South African corporate space, is very real.

Nevertheless, what did struck me was that the majority of these women’s groups and networks were organized by and for women of wealth. This fact is inevitably linked to the under-representation of women of color in those same women’s networks. In those particular women’s networks I came across: South African women of color were present, but just not in the same number as white women with a South African background were.

Recently, August was declared Women’s Month as a tribute to the thousands of women who marched on 9 August (1956), in protest against the extension of apartheid’s hated “Pass Laws” to women. Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana, stated that while women then had access to opportunities, rights and services that were just a dream 20 years ago, they still bore the burden of the challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty at that time. South African women still feel the consequences of that. However, the recently (2013) implemented "Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill” is very slowly but surely paying off. Patience, is key.

Maxime Eveline
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