NOMZAMO MBATHA Q&A
What are the influences, strengths and tools that have helped you to become an empowered woman? Seeing other women contribute to social change pushes me to do more, and to the best of my ability. Foremost to me is knowing and understanding the responsibility we hold as women of the current generation, and what legacy we leave for women of the next. One woman has the ability to empower another and allow her to shine her light too.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a woman, and how do you go about overcoming them? Perhaps living in a patriarchal society. Women constantly have to fight for our voices to be heard and for those voices to matter. That said, as society becomes more inclusive and receptable to change, the roles are slowly shifting and women are becoming more prevalent as thought leaders and breakers of boundaries. We break the rules and make them anew.
Who was the most influential female inspiration for you growing up, and what did you admire about them? My grandmother. Her strength and resilience knew no bounds. She spoke with authority and with love, her wisdom shaped the woman that I have become and am becoming. Oprah Winfrey was also an inspiration to me. What I love most about her is that she has always been a pioneer when it comes to empowering the girl child. It’s always been a trait I love about her.
Is there a strong female influence in your life now? If so, who and why? My aunt and my mother – two women who grew up having absolutely nothing. Who have loved deeply and suffered loss. My pillars of strength who teach me the power of resilience and perseverance. Truly, they are the reason for my discipline, groundedness and work ethic.
Are women in South Africa becoming more empowered – if so, in what way and why do you think this is? Absolutely. The amount of female entrepreneurs that our country has produced in the last decade is astounding. Women who are decision makers in the work place, women who are running organizations for female empowerment, single mothers who are raising kings and queens. Women today are more liberated in who they are and it is beautiful to see.
What are the biggest hurdles South African women face that keep them from becoming or feeling empowered? One of the biggest hurdles is other women. We are doing so well as South African women in our different fields, but one of our main challenges is how we treat ourselves and the next woman. We are not each other’s biggest supporters. While the culture of sisterhood is there, it is not as strong as it should be.
How can women inspire one another to become more empowered? By rooting for each other! We are all running our own race at our own pace. It gets tiring but knowing that ten other sisters are encouraging you to keep going and not to give up would be a bonus! Female-on-female empowerment is what we need. We need to be building each other up.
What are the women empowerment stories you celebrate? Women who take a girl child to school, and women who use their personal network to connect and assist other women. We are each other’s ‘yellow pages’…
What does PUMA’s female focused campaign #DoYou mean to you? Being the best version of yourself and constantly breaking boundaries whilst doing that. In turn, inspiring and empowering someone else to do the same. Running your own race, at your own pace.
You advocate honest self expression, which is a key element of the #DoYou campaign. How does honest self expression link to being empowered? We don’t all hear the same beat of the drum, therefore we don’t all dance with the same rhythm. Just how we can all rock the PUMA suede sneaker in different ways. And that is okay because that’s what makes us unique. Part of staying true to ourselves at all times is dancing to the beat of the drum in our own rhythm. The victory is sweeter when we win by being the best version of ourselves.
What attracted you to work with PUMA and how has your relationship with the brand influenced your personal journey? What I love most about the PUMA brand is how it advocates for liberation and inclusion. Liberation in who we are as people, liberation of our differences and freedom of our “cool”. Inclusion of every kind of person there is, because representation is key. Plus they just make dope apparel!