Africa Business Communities

[Column] Thandi Moticoe: Driving change through economic empowerment of South African women

Women in South Africa live in constant fear. Every day is filled with stories of violent acts committed against women, with rape, physical abuse, assault, and murder constant themes in South Africa’s narrative about women. As we come to the end of Women’s Month the spectre of violence against women continues to cast a long shadow over our society. 

On Friday August 18 Police Minister Bheki Cele presented the crime statistics for the first quarter of the 2023-'24 financial year.  Between April and June this year, 895 women were murdered, 40 more than the same quarter the previous year. There were 1 417 attempts to murder women, 238 more than the previous year, and 12 872 cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm to women were recorded, 1 138 more than the previous year.

The toll that this constant state of fear takes on women's mental health is deeply concerning.

According to a global survey by medical technology company, Hologic, more than 70% of South African women admit they don't feel safe walking at night, a chilling indication of the prevailing atmosphere of insecurity. However, they are expected to function, both at home and work as if all is normal.

The distressing circumstances facing women are not only affecting their short-term and long-term health but also undermining their ability to lead fulfilling lives. Women in our country are grappling with an alarming surge in stress triggered by rising crime rates and the fear of becoming victims of crime looms larger in the minds of women, leading to widespread distress and anxiety.

One of the keys to overcoming the challenges faced by women is economic empowerment. By providing women with skills training, microfinancing, and entrepreneurial support, we are helping women break free from the shackles of dependence and vulnerability.

This empowerment not only boosts their self-esteem but also strengthens their ability to support themselves and their families. It equips women with the means to achieve financial independence and self-sufficiency, granting them the ability to make choices that prioritise their well-being and safety.

At PurpleRoom Consultancy, we know the power of empowering women and our dedication to women's empowerment in communications stands as a cornerstone of our ethos. Our executive committee proudly comprises 75% women, showcasing a diverse and inclusive leadership that propels our organisation forward.

Central to our efforts is the PRC internship programme, now in its 5th year, which is purposefully designed to provide a platform for the growth and development of young female graduates. Through this initiative, we aim to equip these talented individuals with the skills, opportunities, and mentorship necessary to excel in their careers, nurturing a new generation of influential women in the field of communications.

When women have access to, job opportunities, and financial resources, they gain the confidence to challenge oppressive norms and situations that put them at risk of exploitation. Economic stability also enables women to seek help and support without fearing loss of financial security, increasing their ability to leave abusive environments.

By reducing economic disparities and fostering self-reliance, we create a society where women are better equipped to break free from the confines of exploitation and establish lives built on autonomy, dignity, and respect.

It is imperative that we come together as a society to collectively find solutions that empower women financially. We must engage in open dialogues and challenge harmful norms that limit women from economic advancement.

By promoting economic empowerment, we can collectively pave the way for a safer, more prosperous future for all women in South Africa. It is our duty, as a society, to rally behind these efforts and ensure that the distressing statistics of today become the success stories of tomorrow.

Thandi Chaotsane-Moticoe is the Managing Director at PurpleRoom Consultancy



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