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Nana's party aims to change face of politics

By unknown | Jan 22, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

It did not take long for Nana Ngobese-Nxumalo, founder and president of Women Forward - a new political party for women - to find her place in politics.

It did not take long for Nana Ngobese-Nxumalo, founder and president of Women Forward - a new political party for women - to find her place in politics.

Frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm and passion where gender issues are concerned, Ngobese-Nxumalo decided to quit her well paying job in government to start a political party for women.

And in April last year her party was launched. It now has more than 10000 members and is determined to change the face of politics.

"We are not an opposition party. We work with other women movements to bring peace, stability and harmony in politics and ultimately in our communities," she says.

This Durban-born mother of four says her passion for the emancipation of women is what drove her to start a political party in which women can talk about issues affecting them without compromising their femininity.

She believes women have compromised a lot and have lost touch with their identity as women in trying to fit into the so-called man's world.

"I love politics. My family has always been involved in politics. I also love to see women prosper," she says.

She says her party, which will be taking part in this year's elections, is bringing back that "feminine energy" and has what it takes to defuse negative energy and create harmony in politics.

"Women are born nurturers. We understand pain better than anyone.

"It is women who kept the home fires burning while the men were away.

"It is the women who made sure children did not go to bed on empty stomachs. Women can be the voice of reason in our world of politics."

But most women in politics and in the corporate world find themselves behaving like men, using aggressive language to be heard and taken seriously, she explains.

"We don't want that because it perpetuates aggressiveness and violence in politics.

"We want to create an environment in which there is dialogue and everyone's views are respected."

She says her party looks to the elders at grassroots level for advice to understand the issues in communities.

Its members also work closely with existing community development structures to build on existing initiatives.

She says the key issues Women Forward will be tackling include violence and abuse against women and children, economic empowerment, poverty, healing and making government work.

On violence against women and children, Ngobese-Nxumalo says the party is embarking on a campaign to strengthen the fight against gender-based violence.

"It's only a month after the 16 Days Campaign ended and already there are more than 6000 reported cases nationwide of abuse against women and children.

"We cannot stand back and do nothing. We as Women Forward are appealing to all sectors of our society to protect vulnerable individuals.

"Let the spirit of ubuntu prevail."

She says it is disturbing that victims of abuse are the ones that are removed from their communities instead of the perpetrators.

"Let those who abuse be the ones who leave the home, not the ab-used," she says.

On women's economic development, Ngobese-Nxumalo says she wants to encourage women to start their own banks.

"In India women have created their own banks and managed to by-pass the red tape that limited many women battling to access finance from financial institutions.

"There are many models like this that have made a huge difference in women's lives throughout the world and South Africa is capable of achieving this."

She says the government should bring development programmes to communities where they are needed most, particularly to rural areas.

"Working from the ground up will be the only way to spread the resources for economic empowerment to those who need them most."

With the elections just around the corner, Ngobese-Nxumalo is fired up to live her dream.

"This is my calling. It has really healed me," she says with a smile.


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