by Natalie Myburgh
Fight for Freedom
You might not know it, but you are imprisoned. All women are. Our cage is gilded and we are taught from a young age to love its finely wrought bars. What am I talking about? It’s the myriad of specifications and limitations every woman is subjected to if she wants to be accepted by society.
The Truth about Pink
In the early 1900s, pink was mostly used for boys, because it was seen as a stronger colour, while blue was used for girls, because it was considered more delicate and prettier for a girl. In the mid-1900s the custom was turned on its head, and so it has remained to the present day. Doesn’t that just make you wonder what other gender-related customs have been turned around over the years?
Tina Eboka, International Trade Commissioner: International Trade and Administration Commission (ITAC), Department of Trade and Industry:
When we are young, we are at our most creative, innovative, courageous and passionate, and that is so special. I have realised that, as we grow older, we tend to lose that passion, courage and innovation.
I urge young women not to allow themselves to be ‘miseducated’ about what is important. Yes, there are social norms, expectations, protocols and etiquette, but none of these require or suggest that you give up on who you are. Life deals all of us ‘stuff’ that brings so much change of heart and upheaval, but we should know that these too pass and that our honest reason for living is to be who we were born to be.
We have to be ‘MaD MaC’, that is, ‘Make a Difference’ in and ‘Make a Choice’ about our lives. The choice ultimately rests with just you!
Leigh Bennie, well-known radio presenter and participant in the first Big Brother in South Africa:
Part of being true to yourself is knowing yourself. I think, as women, we generally have an innate sense of self, but do we act on it? Know your strengths and weaknesses. Own up to the things that you’re not good at or tend to put off, and hire someone who excels in those areas to cover such business functions.
A common trait among entrepreneurs is that they try to do everything themselves, to be everything: marketer, accountant, sales representative and administrative manager. With the pressure on women to juggle so many balls in our daily lives, it’s easy to see how the ‘Wonder Woman’ complex affects our business style too, but it’s not realistic and, ultimately, the neglected area could bring your burgeoning empire to its knees.
Maximise your talents, and believe in yourself and your dream, but don’t be afraid to admit that you need help. Offloading a dreaded chore will bring the fun back to your business, and there will be less stress in, and more balance to, your life.
Annelize Wepener, Chief Executive, CEO Communications:
Stay true to yourself by not speaking like a man, acting like a man or dressing like a man. Stay feminine and soft, but with an inner strength. I believe women should become strong, very strong. We should join hands with our male counterparts and stand together.
Create your own space. Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. They have things in their lives that you don’t know about.
Me-time is important – you cannot give what you do not have. It all starts with taking care of yourself.
If you are a woman, you have gone through life with all kinds of rules regarding your appearance, your activities, your profession and the roles you have to play. Baby girls are dressed in pink. Women should have long hair. Women paint their nails and wear make-up. Women are looked down on if they take part in ball sports like rugby, cricket and soccer. Women are expected to raise children and keep house. When a woman is in a position of power, it is often automatically assumed that she can’t handle it as well as a man.
You’re nodding your head now, aren’t you? It’s because we all live the reality of it every day. We try our best to meet all the requirements, and we don’t even expect to be able to change things if we try to challenge them. The few who have tried have resigned themselves to a certain level of ‘outcastness’.
But yet, there are women out there who have broken out of the cage and are respected for it. Have a look at what some of these women have to say:
You can’t let others’ expectations rule your life. Does it really matter whether others think you fit in with their view of the world? Isn’t it more important that you are comfortable with who you are? With what you look like? You must stand up for you. As a wise friend of mine always says: “What other people think is none of your business.” I believe that is the key to your cage door. I believe you can break free.