Politics have no place for women

Nonkululeko Hlongwane-Mhlongo is the Rise Mzansi premier candidate in KwaZulu-Natal. | Supplied

Nonkululeko Hlongwane-Mhlongo is the Rise Mzansi premier candidate in KwaZulu-Natal. | Supplied

Published Apr 16, 2024



As the youngest and sole female premier candidate in KwaZulu-Natal for the upcoming elections on May 29, I am acutely aware of the significance of this moment.

For women across our province, my candidacy represents a beacon of hope and possibility, a testament to the strides we have made and the barriers we continue to break down in the realm of politics and leadership.

In a landscape where women’s voices have often been sidelined and their contributions undervalued, my candidacy sends a powerful message: that women belong in positions of power and authority, and that our voices deserve to be heard and respected.

My candidacy also holds profound implications for Rise Mzansi politics and the broader political landscape of KwaZulu-Natal. As a party committed to fostering inclusivity and diversity, Rise Mzansi recognises the importance of women’s representation in leadership roles.

By nominating me as their premier candidate, Rise Mzansi is not only demonstrating its commitment to gender equality but also acknowledging the unique perspectives and experiences that women bring to the table. As we work towards building a more equitable and just society, my candidacy serves as a reminder that the voices of women must be central to our efforts to effect meaningful change.

The significant representation of women comprising 49% of members across political parties is indeed commendable. However, it serves as a stark reminder of the systemic barriers that women still grapple with in South African politics.

Despite being over half of the population, women continue to be under-represented in Parliament and other decision-making bodies, largely due to the patriarchal nature of our political system.

The poignant reflection of the co-founder and CEO of Future Elect, Lindiwe Mazibuko, on her journey resonates deeply: “When you are the first black woman and the youngest black woman to hold the leader of the opposition post, you carry your entire demographic on your shoulders – it is incredibly unjust.”

Her words serve as a powerful reminder of the weight of representation and the urgent need to break down barriers that hinder the full participation of women in shaping our collective future.

To create an environment where women candidates can thrive, a multifaceted approach is essential. Firstly, there must be a concerted effort to challenge and dismantle patriarchal structures that perpetuate gender inequality in politics. This includes addressing implicit biases, discriminatory practices, and cultural norms that disadvantage women in the political arena.

Only by promoting inclusivity at every level of society can we truly achieve gender equality in politics and beyond.

Amplifying the presence of women in decision-making bodies and leadership roles within political parties is imperative. This not only serves as inspiration for aspiring female candidates but also guarantees that women’s perspectives and priorities are robustly represented in policy development and execution.

Targeted support and resources must be readily accessible to women candidates, spanning mentorship programmes, training opportunities, and financial aid. These initiatives serve to equip women with the tools to navigate the intricate terrain of political campaigns, fortify their skills and confidence, and surmount the obstacles they encounter.

Fostering a climate of respect and civility in political discourse is non-negotiable. It must be devoid of sexism, harassment, or gender-based violence. Women candidates deserve the freedom to engage in the political arena without apprehension of intimidation or retribution, enabling them to concentrate on advancing their visions and initiatives.

My candidacy represents a significant stride forward for women in KwaZulu-Natal, highlighting the critical importance of gender diversity in politics.

As we set our sights on the future, let’s seize this moment to construct a more inclusive and equitable society, where women hold equal influence in shaping our collective trajectory. Together, we have the power to dismantle barriers, challenge stereotypes, and forge a brighter, more inclusive path for all.

With this foundation in place, we can empower women candidates to actively participate in the political process, leveraging their unique insights and talents to effect positive change in society.

Let’s seize this opportunity to create a political landscape where every voice is valued, every perspective is heard, and every woman has the opportunity to succeed.

Nonkululeko Hlongwane-Mhlongo is the Rise Mzansi premier candidate in KwaZulu-Natal.

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