What being a woman means to women in South Africa

By Kay-Dee Mashile

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day. Women have been defined differently over time. While this is a testament of the dynamic diversity embedded in the term, it may also lead to confusion as to what being a woman really means. Well, there is no better way to get an answer to that but to ask women what being a woman means to them. In conversation with women from different walks within and outside the ACTIVATE! Network, these were some of the responses to this mind-boggling question!

Activator Nthabeleng Jabani, Free State, says:

To her, being a woman means being bestowed with a privilege and a blessing while, at the same time, being given the huge responsibility of having great abilities to create, cultivate, nurture, love and forgive. “Being a woman”, Nthabeleng says, “…means the world to me!”


Criminology Lecturer, Mrs Kelebogile Olivier, Free State, echoes Nthabeleng’s word and basically summarises them by saying:

“Being a woman means being able!”


While Activator Ntokozo Mazwide Dube, Gauteng, says:

Being a means being to nurture… it is the opportunity to have your everyday work contribute to the betterment of your community and those around you.


Activator Motsatsi Mmola, Limpopo, says that she embodies her definition of being a woman…

To her, “Being a woman means being a Worker, an Organiser, a Manager, an Adviser, a Negotiator and a Nurse. Being a woman being an organised person… a person who has an empathetic heart, a person who always wants to see her family and community safe and happy. A woman is an advocate for her community and family… she always keeps her smile, even in tough situations. A woman always believes in God. Being a women being too hard to crack… it means being able to withstand criticism…”


Student Leader surprise Manyaiyi, Free State, says:

Being a woman means being strong and purposeful in what God called you for.


In just as few words, Activator Siphosethu January, Eastern Cape,  says:

Being a woman means being a rock, a backbone and a pillar of strength in times of weakness.

NMU student, Rumbi Sweet, Western Cape, echoes that:

Being a woman means being kind and enthusiastic. It means being hungry for successes and thirsty to achieve greatness… it means having an overcoming spirit against every challenge that presents itself and being courageous in hardships. A woman is a loving being who pleases everyone and sacrifices at the expense of her happiness. A woman is indescribable!

Being a woman means many things to men and women alike, but the greatest meaning of womanhood is the meaning we give to our lives on a daily basis… whatever walk of life we find ourselves on. For more on what South African women within and outside the A! network have to say about womanhood, follow the A! Twitter account @ActivateZA and keep an eye out on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day. Be sure to tweet us and let us know what being a woman means to you!

Leave a Reply

Sign up for our newsletter

Our newsletters are a round-up of the actions, conversations and thoughts of the ACTIVATE! network. Keep up with what’s happening in our network by reading our newsletters. Sign up here to receive them directly in your mailbox and read more stories of South African youth doing amazing work in their communities. This is the fabric of inspiration for a nation, the catalyst of youthful energy, understanding and action.

Co-financed by the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW and the DG Murray Trust.

All copyrights reserved for. The data presented here is from a sample of the Activate Change Drivers Network surveyed in 2017. Though efforts were made to make the sample representative of the Network, normal limits of sampled data should be considered in the use of this data. The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Siyashesha Leadership Incubator, the managing entity of the A! Change Drivers programmes and A! Change Drivers Network. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or any benefit arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.