By Kennedy Nyavaya
Former South African beauty queen Basetsane Khumalo (pictured) has called on Africa’s women to join forces in pursuing gender equality and equity in all spheres of life.
Khumalo’s claim to fame was when she rewrote history by becoming the first black Miss South Africa queen in 1994 at a time it had been a feat exclusively set aside for the whites.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the inaugural “I am Women’s Conference” held in Harare last weekend, the media mogul said more was needed to dismantle the remnants of patriarchy.
“We still live in a patriarchal society in the continent, that is a fact and the voice of the black girl child needs to be heard,” she said.
“It cannot be that in 2020 we still have those disparities, they need to be closed and it is going to take women who are courageous, purpose-driven and are unafraid to call the system for what it is.”
Running under the theme Unapologetically You, the conference — organised by motivational speaker and entrepreneur Nyengeterai Mahaka — was attended by thousands, including Ruth Makandiwa, Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa and Pokello Nare.
According to Khumalo, collaboration between women of different backgrounds is imperative to achieving gender parity and sustainable development for the future.
“It is given and there are statistics that show that women when they are given opportunities and economically emancipated, we make better choices for our families, bodies, communities and for our countries,” she said.
“I am encouraging women to take a seat at the table and if nobody pulls up a chair for you, you better pull it for yourself and then bring others along.”
Meanwhile, Khumalo, who also serves as the chairperson of the Business Women’s Association of South Africa, urged upcoming models to take pageants as an empowerment tool like she had done.
“One of the things I need to dispel about pageantry, is that it’s not about wearing a bathing costume on stage. “Those platforms are empowering platforms, they allow young women to have dreams and using those platforms to propel themselves and realise those dreams,” she said, adding that a Sadc regional pageant would be a great idea.
“When you look at it as a platform for empowerment, it begins to make sense.It’s what you do with that opportunity ultimately that is important.”