Some of Carol Bouwer’s bags inspired by Esther Mahlangu on display at the soirée to promote women artists.
Some of Carol Bouwer’s bags inspired by Esther Mahlangu on display at the soirée to promote women artists.

Artists shine light on gender equality at soirée in Pretoria

By Valerie Boje Time of article published Apr 13, 2021

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Pretoria - There have been gains in achieving gender equality in recent years, but many challenges which remain have been aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first part of the 2021 United Nations Gender Equality Forum, hosted virtually by Mexico, wrapped up at the end of March, with the second to be hosted by France at the end of June.

These events are intended to accelerate action for the achievement of gender equality and the rights and dignity of women and girls. Mexico is significant as it was here the first UN World Conference on Women, held in Mexico City in 1975, led to the adoption of a plan of action to eliminate discrimination and promote the full participation of women in society.

Mexican ambassador to South Africa, Ana Luis Fajer said there was today a renewed sense of urgency to achieve gender equality and change the status of women worldwide, especially in light of the pandemic.

She was speaking at a recent soirée hosted by the French Ambassador to South Africa, Aurélien Lechevallier, along with UN Women in Pretoria and businesswoman Carol Bower, during which the work of a number of artists was displayed alongside that of celebrated Ndebele artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu.

Some of Carol Bouwer’s bags inspired by Esther Mahlangu on display at the soirée to promote women artists.

Lechevallier called for greater action for women’s rights worldwide, saying France stood united with South Africa in the fight for gender equality, and was happy to support female artists as it recognised the important role they play in addressing social and political issues.

“We have made considerable progress to gender equality and the principles of non-discrimination yet we knew problems still exist and that achieving gender equality, like freedom, is a long journey,” he said.

Work on display included a number of abstracts by Mahlangu from the Melrose Gallery, signature handbags by Carol Bouwer and Mahlangu, and works by Neo Mahlangu, Nandipha Mntambo, Zanele Muholi, Zizipho Poswa, Azael Langa, Lady Skollie, Nienke van der Meulen, Nicolas Lehmann and Chris Soal.

Chris Soal’s Discarded beer bottle tops threaded onto woven steel rope.

Acting COO of Dirco and a proponent of women’s rights, Charlotte Lobe, said it had been 25 years since the World Conference on Women Beijing, where the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted.

This agenda for women’s empowerment covered 12 critical areas of concern and, while there had been gains in some, there was a need to be conscious of the barriers which continue to mitigate against women.

The UN has reported that more girls are going to school, fewer girls are forced into early marriage, more women serve in positions of leadership, and laws are being reformed to advance gender equality.

However, many challenges remain such as discriminatory laws, unequal access to opportunity, stereotypes and violence against women and girls.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and discrimination, and impacted women disproportionately from health and the economy, to security and social protection, the UN reported.

The Forum in Paris aims to advance and solidify commitments towards creating gender-equal societies as the world begins to recover from the pandemic.

Pretoria News

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