I come from a generation of South Africans who are not far removed from the struggles and sacrifices made by the generations before us in terms of their economic, social and, educational aspirations.
More women of my generation, if willing and determined, were fortunate enough to access tertiary education, enter decent if not promising career opportunities and attain economic freedom and independence.
Still, we are mothers and wives who want to see our entire family unit enjoy a stable, balanced family life, with each and every member putting our best foot forward and flourishing, without boundaries and obstacles.
With the practise of gender mainstreaming in place for decades now, can women truly say that they have accessed and enjoyed the benefits thereof?
I don’t know many women who have had the privilege of saying that they have fulfilled their roles as mother, career woman and individual equally as well. Sacrifices and trade-offs along the way was not an option.
Ironically, it is Covid-19 that has shown us that we don’t have to subscribe to the conventional way of doing things in order to achieve purpose and prosperity.
The path that I personally strived towards over the last decade in wanting to seek ways to maintain a harmonious balance in my family while tending to my desire to aspire towards my own goals, has suddenly found its place in our current lives as a very normal phenomenon.
That said, I am incredibly proud to find myself in the company of the many women and girls around the world who have not succumbed to the uncertainty that Covid-19 has imposed.
In fact, it is because of such women that World Speech Day Women was born. Women who are unafraid to find that nugget of hope, and grow it exponentially.
These women (and some men), young and old, have come together to share their intriguing and some very unique approaches to making life a little bit better for themselves, and for those around them.
Ohryu Rekha Reddy is of a generation wherein many are presently scared, feeling isolated, depressed, frustrated, sometimes resentful because life as they have known it doesn’t exist. Yet World Speech Day Women has its roots in the World Speech Day #GenerationEquality Campaign Podcast Series that came together because of women like Rekha.
Almost weekly, Rekha shares her lifelong passion for ikebana, now called ‘Lockebana’ by bringing together women from all over the world to enjoy a hour of peace and serenity while she feeds their souls with the most awe-inspiring art of Japanese flower arranging, over zoom.
Through her podcast for World Speech Day, she took the time to describe ikebana as having the same intricacies of life. She went on to connect World Speech Day Women with other dynamic women in India to collaborate for the purposes of extending their reach with the fantastic work they do in promoting mental health awareness, reviving traditional arts and crafts, and focusing on food and agricultural practices, and entrepreneurship.
Rekha is one of many women who are demonstrating what ‘Women In Leadership’ entails and that this is how we strive for inclusivity and equality as women in the current Covid-19 world – by striving for leadership in our family, community, work, career, society and country!
WSD Women has been privileged to have among its midst, many such women. We have had women from different countries share their unique perspectives and experiences by way of contributing to the WSD Women #GenerationEquality Podcast Series that was launched on International Women’s Day 2020; comprising one small action towards the United Nations’ #GenerationEquality ‘Twelve Small Actions Campaign’. Young men and women shared much-needed Digital Literacy tools with videos during the 16 Days of Activism Campaign (a team comprising a partnership of women from Phambano Technology #Tech2EndGBV and World Speech Day). We have young South Africans currently engaging in a fun #IAmAnAfrican Famous Speech (by Former President, Thabo Mbeki) TikTok Challenge. Simultaneously, young adults prepare youth to speak on Social Justice and Gender Equality; while others prepare virtual debates for World Speech Day 2021 Global events. Of course, our collaborations extended to include virtual global dialogues and events, as well as partnering with various organisations and World Speech Day counterparts to promote skills development among youth.
I am one of those women who had to make compromises in an effort to attain the ideal life for myself and my family. But the year 2020 and Covid-19 for me, saw a culmination of a decade of pursuing many different avenues to uplift myself, make the desired impact on those around me and come out with something truly special in the form of World Speech Day Women. Only because of the women who are stepping up, reaching out, and reaching to greater heights, to take others forward with them – taking the lead in making inclusivity their reality!
*First Master of the Ohara School of Ikebana, Hyderabad Chapter
Global Lead: World Speech Day Women
Member: World Speech Day Global advisory Board
National Ambassador and Executive Director: World Speech Day South Africa
Director: Digital Marketing Edge South Africa