November 18, 2011
Freedom to Create: Female Empowerment Forum
Guests at the Female Empowerment Forum at The Fugard Theatre on 16 November were welcomed by the spokesperson of Freedom to Create, Priti Devi.
The forum was part of the Freedom to Create event and Devi said Cape Town was a fitting venue as it has an established history of the transformational power of art. Freedom to Create was then lauded by former first lady Graça Machel, the keynote speaker, who said that the combination of celebration, women, freedom and creativity was inspiring.
Aptly, moderator Gcina Mhlophe greeted the group with a beautiful rendition of Nkosi Sikeleli. Thereafter stories of female empowerment were shared by the panel which included Unity Dow, judge, human rights activist and writer from Botswana; Molly Melching, founder and executive director of the NGO Tostan; and Congolese journalist Chouchou Namegabe. Their stories ranged from the victory of Botswana’s first female high court judge, the journey of the Tostan movement in getting communities in Senegal to discard harmful practices against women including child marriage, to the stories of atrocities performed against women in the Congo, including horrific mass rapes in the late 1990s – a story that bruises the soul.
The awe-inspiring voices of the panellists and the voice that they gave to other women resulted in an infectious courage. As Devi said in closing, it is a responsibility to “give another female a portion of half the sky she is owed”.