My Journey with SAWID and its leaders.

“Whatever position I hold, SAWID reminds me that it is always important to create spaces and hear all those other voices.”

I have been aware of the existence of SAWID at least since 2006, when I started at the CGE, having had many engagements with its founders under the Women’s Foundation, including Dr. Brigalia Bam and Sis Joyce Seroke .We were assisting them to think through their strategy. I also met the current chairperson, Mam Thoko Mpumlwana at the CGE.

In 2014, when I was CEO of CGE, when we were doing a National Gender Summit, we were trying to work closely with SAWID, a good organisation to work with to ensure the diversity needed in this Gender Summit. We were trying to see how to collaborate with Gender Links and SAWID to extend our reach and have a broader perspective.

I think for me the impact of SAWID, is that it is a platform where womn’s voices are taken into consideration on broad issues that impact people’s lives. It is issues of poverty and community development, but it is also multi-faceted. When there are policy processes, it is important that we find a channel where women’s voices can be heard in their diversity. That is the broad reach on the ground that ensures that women’s voices are heard, even those often marginalized rural voices, as we shape policy and come up with decisions

That the approach that SAWID uses is an organic one. The beautiful thing that the women’s movement needs is this organic inclusivity, of all races, classes, religions, ethnicities, languages, geography, and sexual preference. Whatever position I hold, SAWID reminds me that it is always important to create spaces and hear all those other voices.

By reminding me how impactful collective leadership can be. Any work that I undertake, whether at CGE, t UN Women, or consulting privately, I must always make sure that I am able to engage women in their diversity.

During the last two years, I have co-hosted various dialogues and webinars in partnership with SAWID. The first was a submission on the GBV Bills, and in 2021 we collaborated on a Submission on the Single Marriage Act. We managed to convene a diverse gathering of legal experts and grassroots women in both cases, to brief them and provide the background to legislation and bills that affect their everyday choices.

Exposure to diverse views, including those of transgender advocates, helped to educate and inform women. The major impact of my collaboration with SAWID has been the exposure of women to a multiplicity of voices and perspectives, and my being able to use my legal talent to join women’s voices into transformative policy initiatives. I have been called a “trailblazer in legislation reform and policy development” by the Mail & Guardian in their “Women Changing South Africa” edition. I am grateful to serve SAWID in this way.