1 August Women breaking barriers August 1, 2017 By Nomatshawe Vellem Latest News 0 Gone are the days of women being confined to traditional occupations and being restricted to pursue careers that do not require physical strength. Celebrating women’s month BCMM Writer Zanda Booi had a chat with one of the Metro’s Refuse Truck Driver Nomonde Simelane about her day to day operations, aspiration and how she challenged stereotypes when she landed her job. The 52-year-old Simelane is among the most inspiring women who continue to break down gender barriers in industries previously dominated by men. The unusual combination of being a truck driver and a middle aged mother of three surprises many who come into contact with Simelane but she dared to diminish stereotypes. The Qumbu born driver had dreams of becoming a police woman but circumstances at the time prevented her from completing matric making it difficult for her to follow her dream. To provide for her young children she sought to find any form of work to put food on the table and landed a job as a Street Sweeper for the City in 1998, she was then promoted to be the team leader for Street Sweepers in 2003. In her pursuit to advance her career, she decided to get a driver’s license to be able to apply for work as a driver in 2012. The following year, in 2013, Simelane was presented with an opportunity to act in a truck driver position where she proved herself as a reliable and cautious driver and as a result was absorbed permanently as a Driver Overseer in 2015. Simelane said her work is very rewarding as she contributes toward service delivery by doing her bit to keep the City clean. “Making sure that refuge bags are collected every day in the City is not just duty for me, it is a moral responsibility.” Talking about her daily routine Simelane said “The day starts with inspecting the truck for any defaults, we also check that the team is in safety gear and that all the tools are in place for the day, then we head to our designated areas which include Quigney, Westbank and Arcadia to collect refuse.” She added that she cannot imagine being office bound because she enjoys spending hours out on the road and meeting new people. Simelane heads a team of 23 refuse collectors and says leading a group that is largely made up of men is not without its fair share of challenge “At first it was intimidating to walk into a male dominated workplace and be required to give instructions to my male counterparts but perceptions are slowly changing. Men are now becoming more accepting of women in these roles,” she said. Simelane said she receives immense encouragement from women for her work and also takes the opportunity to remind women that they too can be anything they want to be. “Young women always come up to me wanting to enquire about my job and how they could secure employment as truck drivers. In these days, women are interested in taking non-traditional jobs and I am always keen to give good advice.” Revealing her plans for the future Simelane said she intends to continue working as a driver overseer and hopes to move into a management position in future. Related BCM women unite to end violence The occasion was held on Tuesday 15 August at Mzamomhle Community Hall. The main purpose of the event was to motivate women to impart good morals to their sons to fight violence against women and children in the City. The theme of the occassion is The Year of OR Tambo – Women United in Moving South Africa Forward and the topic on the day was Teach a Boy to be a Man of integrity. Stakeholders that include Commission for Gender Equality, Metro’s Disability Forum, Men’s Sector, Women’s Forum, African National Congress (ANC) Youth League attended the event to give words of support to women of the Metro. Speaking at the event Ward 14 Councillor Zininzi Mtyingizane said, "We call upon all men, women and men formations to be part of the solution in the fight against violence. This will contribute to building on the legacy of the women of 1956, who envisaged men and women working together as set out in the Women’s Charter of 1954." "Peaceful, affirming and loving homes teach girls and boys what it means be a good human being. Likewise, homes where violence is rife raise very violent girls and boys. Friends, places of worship, schools and the media do a similar job. Through these, notions of self are formed and in turn are replicated in action towards others," said Mtyingizane. "When girls are taught that they are weaker than boys from an early age and boys are taught that they can dominate their sisters the consequences can sometimes be deadly in adulthood." "But it would be an injustice to consider why women continue to be victims of violence without considering our own role as women in that violence," she added. Giving words of support, Nokuthula Tsawu from the Metro’s Disability Forum said, "Let us all unite, love one another and fight women and children abuse. Today, we are here to say as women united we stand." "Women with disability are also faced with challenges of poverty, unemployment, abuse and violence so we also need to consider them," she said. Adding to that Nceba Mrwebo from Commission for Gender Equality said, "We urge you to report acts of violence against women whenever it happens. You are in partnership with perpetrators if you stay silent in the face of violence." "Let’s make a commitment to work together in making sure that violence against women is ended in our society," said Mrwebo. One of the women who attended the occasion Nontombi Zozo from Mzamomhle Township said, "We really appreciate events like these where women gets equipped and motivated because as women we face so many challenges." . Moving women forward “We are here to celebrate women ‘viva women viva’, said Ayanda Peter Portfolio Head for Executive Support Services. Women from the Deafsa, Metro Councillors, Youth City Council, Disability and Gender Forum were all present at the event. “This event means a lot to my department as we celebrate and acknowledge the struggles women face on a daily basis. This event is driven to highlight the issues we as women face and the various steps we can take to encourage each other through them,” said Peter. Speaking to Thabisa Myataza from the Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre about the 20 000 who paved the way for women today by marching to the Union Buildings in 1956. “These women all had a dream to sustain the progressive strides towards economic empowerment of women and gender equality,” said Myataza. The Executive Mayor Alfred Mtsi addressing the women at the event said that the battle for gender equality will never be achieved if we ourselves are not transformed from the inside. “Transformations has to begin at home and in our schools. Women’s advancement is central to the development of people and society,” said Mtsi. The event included discussions about the struggles of women living with disabilities, the proactive measures in civil society towards violence against women, the burden of HIV and AIDS and the institutions to advance gender equality. Speaking to Dr Lesley Foster Executive Director of the Masimanyane Women's Support Centre about the non-profit international women’s organisation she said that the organization focuses on violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and rights and the gendered nature of HIV and Aids. “We aim to build the capacity of women and human rights advocates to claim and realise women's human rights. This is done through the development of new knowledge and the utilisation of a rights-based approach,” said Foster. Foster said even thou there are women who are being placed in powerful positions such as Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka the United Nations Secretary General and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma the Chairperson of the African Union more needs to be done to liberate and inspire the young women of our country. “We need to create a space for women’s voices, we have the wisdom and the determination we need to be given the opportunities, Gender equality has to be central in all we do.” BCM women unites to eradicate poverty Women’s Caucus Programme was held again last week at Zozo Community Hall in Kwelerha Village to explore ways to tackle poverty in the area. The occasion was graced by the presence of the Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi along with the Metro officials and stakeholders. The stakeholders that attended the event to motivate the residents of Kwelerha Village include Department of Social Department, Department of Agriculture, Department of Rural Development, National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), National African Farmers Union (NAFU) and Lisebanzi Foundation. Speaking at the event, the Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi said, “We encourage residents to create their own backyard vegetable gardens in their homes. Gardening keeps ageing people fit and healthy.” She added that the elderly must speak up about their challenges and should not be ashamed to ask for help. “We urge and advice that people must report all the challenges they are facing in their lives. He also added that the abuse against older people must come to an end.” Adding to that Phumza Vithimba from National African Farmers Union (NAFU) said, “Farming is healthy for our bodies and farming reduces poverty. Moreover, we encourage residents to grow their own gardens in their homes.” “Older people can also create a garden that is interesting, accessible and productive,” said Vithimba. “We want to come back here one day and arrive to a community where the community is growing their own food in their home gardens,” she said. NAFA has also donated seeds to the community to help more families grow their own food in the area. Amongst those that attended the event was an 88-year-old woman Nophindile Njovana who is the oldest of them all in the community. The MEC handed over a gift bag to an 88-year-old with goodies ranging from a bag, fresh fruits, toiletries, pyjamas, sleeping gown, blankets, sleeping shoes to keep an old lady warm during this winter season. “I am grateful for this event, it is nice to know that we have not been forgotten. The information provided to us today has put me in the green light on so many things,” said Njovana. Bumb’ingomso launched in BCM The Venue at Hemmingway’s Mall was bursting with song, traditional dancing and poetry when the young women were celebrated at the launch of the Bumb’ingomso project last week. The project was formally formed in 2012 by the Federal Republic of Germany and the South African government through the KfW Development Bank. KfW has been working in South Africa since 1995, they have been focusing on prevention of HIV as at a provincial and national level to make sure the spread of HIV comes to an end. Speaking about the purpose of the day Chief Executive Officer for DGMT David Harrison said, “I would like to thank Buffalo City and the German Government for the opportunity for us to make this day possible. Bumb’ingomso aims to help reduce the risk and spread of HIV in the Metro.” He further added that the trust wants to help create better futures for the young girls of the Metro, we want to create an HIV free generation. “A generation that is filled with hope and future leaders of this country instead of victims of some support group, that is why we have partnered with Bumb’ingomso to make this possible to nurture young girls as we believe young girls are important and they tend to be more vulnerable.” Adding to that Head of Development Corporation-German Embassy Volker Oel said, “We are very excited about this new programme and we as we want to give young people a sense of urgency as the infected rate continues to grow, they will take priority as they are future leaders.” “We would like to see all clinics in Buffalo City be dominated by young people, we need to find clinically proven aspects and continue within them. At the end of the value chain the Department of Health will help come with treatment, there can never be enough intervention until there is no more infection spreading.” “In the years 2001/2002 and 2004 young people between the ages of 14 and 24 years everyone was infected with HIV,” he said. Oel added that one in four young women is infected, however that rate has now come down over the last few years. Addressing the crowd MEC for Health Dr Pumza Dyantyi said, “I am really excited about this project in the City, The statistics speak for themselves, it also shows that women of this age group 14 and 25 years are more infected than the male of this group as it has also been discovered that young girls also sleep with older men.” “The new trend of blessers has hit the country like a storm and our country is in danger, however the blessers are not alarming, the statistics are. Since Bumb’ingomso began it has worked with numerous young girls as part of their programme to support and work with young girls who want to make a difference in their lives in the Buffalo City are. Speaking as part of the perspective of the youth active member from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) Aphiwe Ntlemeza said, “I hope the programme will also find its way to high schools as well as higher education institutions not excluding drop puts as these institutions represent the most vulnerable groups too.” “Condoms are seen as socio cultural factors oppress and construct women as men’s objects of desire and pleasure, thus increasing women’s vulnerability to HIV infection as women are unable to negotiate for condom use.” She added that prevention strategies should also focus on the male contraceptive to use condoms as means to also protect both males and females. Bumb’ingomso is a four multifaceted project which has partnered with the following organisations Small projects Foundation (SPF), Beyond Zero (BZ), Masimanyane Women Support Centre and Harambe Youth Accelerator. Ironman champs successfully defend the titles Swallow won with a record breaking time of 4:30:53 breaking her previous time by seven minutes and 25 seconds. The second runner up in the women’s race was Astrid Stienen from Germany and coming in at number three was South African Annah Watkinson. Watkinson was the first South African woman to finish grabbing the final spot on the podium. Over 2 500 individual athletes participated in the triathlon which is made up of a 1.9km sea swim, 90km bicycle ride and a 21km run. Athletes began their day with a 1.2-mile ocean swim at the Orient Beach, protected by the breakwaters of East London's harbor then followed by a 90km cycle ride along the N2 between East London and King William’s Town. In the men’s division Matt Trautman cruised to victory and successfully defended his title followed by Kyle Buckingham in the second place and James Cunnama who came in at number three. Trautman broke Ryan Tissink’s record which was set by in 2009 Speaking after the race the tired athlete said, “I had a fantastic day. I felt strong throughout and I couldn’t have done better.” Swallow however said about her race, “It is always hard to get out here at the start of the season but I trained really hard and the race went well so I am happy.” BCMM Executive Mayor Alfred Mtsi said, “Today is a big day as we are here to witness strong men and women from different countries all over the world and local athletes compete in this tough competition.” “It has been a great pleasure to accommodate all our visitors and it has increased our City’s economy. Such an event is always a pleasure to have in our Metro,” he said. Mtsi also congratulated all the athletes who took part in the triathlon especially those who made it to the podium. “It has been a success and I would like to congratulate all the winners. The total number of athletes that have participated this here are about 3000 which is a huge number. 16 Days of Activism The City kicked off its campaign with a shoe box campaign where residents and municipal employees collected boxes of items including face cloths, sanitary towels or toiletries and put them in shoe boxes to be distributed to young children who have been abused. The provincial government also held a closing function of the 16 Days of Activism on Thursday 10 December at Gugulethu Sportsfield in Ndevana with over 5 000 people attending the event. The closing ceremony is an event by the provincial Department of Social Development. This annual campaign runs from 25 November until 10 December with the aim of restoring human dignity through awareness while its ultimate goal is to eradicate all forms of violence against women and children throughout the country. Dignitaries that were present at the event include the Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle, MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison Weziwe Tikana, Minister of the Presidency responsible for women and children Susan Shabangu, Deputy Speaker for Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Bulelwa Tunyiswa and Member of Parliament for Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Nonceba Kontsiwe. Addressing the crowd Tunyiswa said, “It has been a long process getting here. Ndevana proved to be also part of the many areas affected by women and children abuse.” Adding to that Kontsiwe said, “I am so happy that there are still at least real men out there amongst us, even today I see many of them just by them being here.” Comments are closed.