Wonder Women of RPC Astrapak
“Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo.”
The above quote, meaning “you strike a woman, you strike a rock”, carries much power amongst South Africans as it was born from one of the largest marches this nation has seen. On 9 August 1959, an astounding figure of approximately 20 000 South African women rallied themselves and marched to Pretoria’s Union Building in a protest, organised by the Federation of South African Women, against the enforcement of the pass law during apartheid. It is our honour and duty as South Africans, male or female, old or young, to remember these revered women who marched and spoke up, such as Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu and Lillian Ngoyi, to name a few. To commemorate the courageous women who participated in creating history, South Africans celebrate 9 August as an empowering day for women.
This historic event remains relevant in our society today as many women continue to face gender inequality in all facets of life. While much headway has been made since the 1950s, many women in South Africa are still subjected to oppression and abuse and are silenced. It is for this reason that we should encourage our fellow female comrades, empower them in the workplace and allow them a platform to voice their opinions.
In preparation for Women’s Day, a few RPC Astrapak female employees were interviewed and invited to share their thoughts about women in South Africa, especially in the working environment.
“The reality is that if you work in South Africa, it’s generally a male dominated workplace”, says Sharyn Mowat, Group Demand Manager, “but if you work for good people and stand up for yourself, they learn to respect you.” She insists that there is “no reason why we should be treated any differently”, and she shares that she gains self-satisfaction and confidence from her work.
Michelle Bell, Executive Secretary to the CEO and Exco Team, remarks that “flexibility is a great help” when juggling the expectations of being a mother and the responsibilities of her work. As well as valuing her family who is “very supportive” of her work, Michelle also honours the role her grandmother has played in her life for having taught her “structure and routine”.
Thoko Dlamini, a member of the cleaning staff at RPC Astrapak Head Office, recognises that “people are expecting more from women” as there needs to be a balance between home-life and work-life. Thoko considers herself to be the breadwinner of her household and “that makes [her] strong, so [she] really can’t complain”, and she expresses that she “[likes] being the women that [she is]” in South Africa.
All those in the working world have much to learn from these Wonder Women of RPC Astrapak, and their lives show that if you are “confident in yourself, ask questions and surround yourself with people who are willing to help you grow and give you opportunities,” a hopeful future awaits women in the industry.
“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” —Michelle Obama