The struggle for recognition 'is far from over'

Khanyisile Nkosi

Khanyisile Nkosi

The rising of women to decision-making structures both in government and the private sector has been hailed as a breakthrough for women's emancipation.

The country watches with pride as women are elevated to higher positions, thus breaking the patriarchal tradition.

The appointment of former speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete as the country's second woman deputy president signifies another milestone for women. Her appointment shows that women are ready and capable to lead.

Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa's ambassador to Brazil, says the appointment of women to leadership positions is not an automatic process. She says the ruling party makes a decision after careful consideration of nominees' capabilities and abilities.

"Women still struggle to be recognised. The problem is that we operate in a society that does not recognise our capabilities. The second issue is power. Men have for years practised power.

"They still believe they, not women, have the capacity to deal with important issues. They think they must be presidents of the country or chairmen of the board."

As long as patriarchy reigns, the struggle for women emancipation and gender equality will continue, Zulu says.

Zulu believes South Africans are ready for a woman president. She says the outcry following the ANC Women's League's failure to nominate a woman for president indicated the country's readiness for change.

"We can't say people are not ready for a woman president because we don't know what it's like to have a woman president."

Zulu says the power men have over women is an old battle that started long before the presidential race.

"The power struggle starts in the workplace and continues at home where a woman is expected to resume her role as wife and mother while the man relaxes. The power they practise at home gets worse in the workplace.

"The struggle is not over and it is going to take a very long time before women are fully recognised and respected for their capabilities and abilities. Until this happens, women will continue the fight to push forward women and gender-related matters," Zulu says.