Across cultures and generations, women have a long tradition of supporting each other. Whether it’s the death of a loved one or the initiation of a boy into manhood, women come together to provide comfort and strength. These support networks play a vital role in maintaining resilience in times of hardship, creating a sense of community and connection.
When women join forces, great things happen. Organisations like Izibazana Women’s Association, Umngqungqo Weentokazi, and the Eastern Cape Women’s Association are fine examples. Their work on behalf of women’s health and well-being has been nothing short of inspiring and these movements are making a difference, one woman at a time.
Izibazana Women’s Association
Siphokazi Mpofu of East London, Eastern Cape, established the Izibazana Women’s Association in 2021 with the goal of assisting the mothers of boys going through initiation. Mpofu saw a gap in the process of a boy becoming a man, which takes a toll on their mothers when it comes to affordability and finances.
“Some of the women are single mothers, divorcees, widows, or relatives who stepped in to help,” she explains.
Mpofu notes that the Izibazana Women’s Association exists to help mothers psychologically, morally, and physically when they are in need.
The Izibazana Women’s Association is now transforming into the Isililo sezibazana healing movement. According to Mpofu, these mothers want more than just assistance; they also require a safe environment for healing.
When a mother cannot afford to take her boys to initiation school, which is a costly venture for boys in the Eastern Cape, they band together to explore how they might help each other. Boys require clothing in addition to food, and these females cover each other’s backs to help them through this process.
Angela Dlokweni-Mbolekwa from Kuilsriver in Cape Town, founded Umngqungqo Weentokazi in 2017 as a safe space for women to talk about their challenges, including divorce and financial difficulties. The movement grew from small gatherings in Dlokweni-Mbolekwa’s home to a community-based non-profit organisation that provides support and resources to women in need. The organisation’s mission is to empower women and give them the tools to overcome affliction.
According to Dlokweni-Mbolekwa, they want to address the connection between financial issues and mental health and to find ways for women to thrive even with limited resources. She has found that money problems often lead to other issues like gambling, sex work, and mental health challenges.
She believes that financial education can be a powerful tool for addressing these issues and improving women’s well-being.
Eastern Cape Women’s Association
The Eastern Cape Women’s Association is a collective of women’s organisations that was founded by Nomonde Phindani from East London, Eastern Cape, during the lockdown regulations in 2021. The structure includes a wide range of women involved in various industries, such as women in early childhood development (ECD), small-scale women farmers, home-based care providers, gender activists, and land activists.
On 20 March 2020, Phindani found herself contemplating how women could be supported with the various challenges they faced at home during a time when physical contact was prohibited. It was during this period of reflection that the idea for this association was conceived.
Phindani believes that cultural norms can sometimes contribute to gender-based violence. She explains that women, in a sense, contribute to an abusive dynamic by being dependent on men. She believes that this is one of the reasons why it is extremely difficult for other women to escape from abusive relationships, as they prioritise their survival.
“The primary focus for us is to promote women’s economic independence.”
These women give their all for others without expecting much. They are the true heroes of Mzansi.
Get the Health For Mzansi newsletter: Your bi-weekly dose of kasi health, wellness and self-care inspiration.