What does Women’s Month or Women’s Day mean to you?
A couple of years ago, Women’s Month for me was largely about the celebration of women with the spotlight being on women. But I think with certain events that have taken place over the years, when you look at issues of gender-based violence in our societies, looking at the fact that we are still struggling in the workplace to have adequate representation to the point where it starts to feel like lip service… The question is: Do you want to celebrate us? Do you want to pamper us?
Then, when September comes, we are back to where we were, so you start to wonder how much does actually change. There has to come a point where we see a huge percentage of women in parliament and ensure that women’s needs and children’s needs are met. To be honest it seems like we are far from that reality at the moment. So, it comes with mixed meaning, because there is a lot to celebrate about women. We are phenomenal; we are the driving force of society but then, at the same time, there is a lot to lament.
How do women today view Women’s Month?
I think they celebrate the day a lot like me. On the one end you go enjoy the spa days that are provided by your organisation, but then you realise that your voice in the workplace is silenced or not heard, and when you start to raise those issues, you are in a way punished, and there are consequences for it. As much as you are pampered on the one day you still come back to that reality, so one would simply say it comes with mixed emotions. As much as you read all these great things about how much women are appreciated we still, in this day and age, feel unsafe to walk down the streets because harm might befall you.
How will you be spending Women’s Day?
Wow, well, I’d have to consult my diary, because, to be honest, I don’t know whether I am coming or going sometimes, but I will be celebrating the day and doing something for sure. It’s a big month for work as well, so we will be covering that too.
Women are woke and aware and seem to be finding their sweet spot in everything right now. Do you think it’s still ‘A Man’s World’?
Well, if you look at it from a media perspective, this is one of the few industries, in my opinion, where women are at the forefront quite a lot, when you look at our dramas and brand ambassadors. Women have massive buying power – that is the reason why brands would consider appointing a woman. So, one would say that there is a place for women in the industry, and they are occupying all the spaces. I mean, Bonang Matheba, who is the biggest celebrity in the country, is a woman. Now the question is, when it comes to paying the cheque, are women getting their due in the entertainment industry? In some areas definitely! In front of the camera, on the magazine covers and so on, we are winning in that sense. But then behind the scenes there is still an element of inequality.
It is saddening to know that inequity and sexual harassment issues still linger in corporate South Africa and in the entertainment industry. So, behind the scenes there is still a lot of injustice and because the industry is largely “informal,” so to speak, people get away with a lot. We also have the #MeToo Movement that is taking place and still bubbling up in South Africa, which encourages women to speak up because we find that on numerous occasions when you speak up you are seen as a diva or someone not to work with, so your career is at stake. And because we do not have unions, people are out for their own bread, and they might not stand with you. You think twice before speaking up about certain things that happen in the workplace.
When is the right time to educate young girls about their worth, their place in the world and their rights?
We do not do it enough. We do not do it early enough. We should do it as early as possible because what is coming at our children now is the message that you are not enough, you are inadequate, you do not have enough likes. They end up with anxiety of not having approval, especially through social media. So, as parents we should always aim to reinforce those messages of, “You are enough, you are loved, and you are important,” because as parents we think these things are known by our children. We assume a lot of things. We assume that this person knows that they are loved and worthy, and we take the chance to tell them these things for granted.
If you were to change one aspect of our society now through your work, what would it be?
I go into work with that hope, but I don’t know what it would be specifically. My internal prayer is for God to allow me to be a vessel, and that I, in turn, be a blessing in someone’s life through the conversations we have here on Real Talk. That’s all I ask for. I am optimistic, yes, but I try to inspire. I don’t go into work with the hope of changing the world all at once, but hope to reach out to one person at a time.
Would you have conquered all that you have without the women in your life?
Definitely not. I mean, I have my mother who had to take care of my daughter when I started working for the radio and so forth, and I had night shifts. I was just chasing the dream and to see that they believed in me even back then warms my heart to this day. The people I leaned on were my mom, my help, my sister and many other women who understood that I had set these goals for myself. I own a business with two other women – single moms, mind you – so that relationship also plays a huge role in my life, because we get each other’s demands and support each other. The nature of being a single parent is also demanding, so having to run a business with them has been an absolute honour.
Who else plays a significant role in your life?
I live a very small life; I keep to myself a lot. At the moment, however, I am discovering my son in a different way. He is 12 years old and seeing him grow into his own skin is a beautiful thing to witness. My daughter is becoming this bold person, so she is important in that sense because she reminds me to live with courage. And then I have my boyfriend, who is my counsellor, my guide, my adviser, my friend, my lover. He is just this person who is indispensable in the role that he plays. And then, of course, my mother; she is my rock. If I could be as woman as she is, I’d say I’ve lived.
What would be your personal soundtrack, and why that specific song?
Being a music fanatic I really find it hard to choose one song, because my whole playlist is my favourite, but if I had to choose one I’d have to lean on Thandiswa Mazwai’s Nizalwa Ngobani. That song for me is so complete in a sense that it serves as a reminder to never forget who you are, who you walk with.
If we were to trade places, tell me one thing I need to know about you that most people don’t know.
If you are to step into Azania’s shoes for a day, you definitely have to be a confident driver on the road and know what you are doing. And you have to know your way around the city too. This is because I have ambitions of becoming a race car driver!
You are an inspiration to a lot of women, myself included. What would you say to the ladies finding their feet and trying to climb the ladder to success?
It’s important to trust your voice, own your voice and believe in your voice. And always know that your story matters. The authenticity of trusting in your gut feeling and believing that your story matters and, of course, work hard towards your dreams.
Catch inspiring conversations with Azania Mosaka every weekday at 18:00–19:00 on SABC 3.