'Empowered women will be the end of patriarchy’
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SHEENA Geness is a medical doctor, businesswoman, philanthropist, model and mother.
Born in Durban, she grew up working in the fashion industry and later studied medicine.
Today, she runs a family medical practice in Johannesburg and teaches fifth-year medical students, in family medicine at Wits University.
Her special interests are HIV management, gynaecology and paediatrics and she is passionate about philanthropy.
This led to her founding the Geness Foundation, which caters to the critical needs of Africans in the sectors of health, education, entrepreneurship, and sport.
The POST asked Geness why, in a developing country like SA, she thought it was important that we strive towards supporting others around us.
“A society that has economic freedom needs individuals to participate equally. Any less fortunate individual, who has been empowered will be liberated.
“They will be able to develop and promote their own lives with optimism and sustainability. South Africa can only achieve such a positive degree of autonomy if we help each other. I see philanthropy as a stepping stone towards nation-building.
“As the saying goes, ‘You educate a woman you empower a village.’ In South Africa, women make up over half of the national population, so it’s imperative that patriarchal systems are abolished, to allow women a rightful place in the labour market.
“The resultant positive effects on the economy and the stability of democracy will be huge. Also, if women are empowered and educated, they will make better, sustainable decisions for their own health and the wellbeing of their children and families.”
She also shared her thoughts on the biggest obstacle facing women’s health in the country.
“Unfortunately, women in South Africa today still lack resources to access proper medical care.
“Poverty-driven factors have led women to bear the brunt of HIV infections, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), unplanned pregnancies and abortions, domestic violence, cervical and breast cancer.
“We need to continue awareness campaigns and provide fully equipped clinics, hospitals and mobile clinics - with well-trained doctors - to rural areas so that every woman gets access to ARVs (antiretroviral therapy), antibiotics, contraceptives, chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well as legal advice and intervention in cases of abuse.”
She said the most important message that she shared with her daughters - Riaska,15, and Priyanka, 11 - was that they develop their chosen skills through individual perseverance and hard work.
“This will allow them to sustain themselves in a gender-biased world. Also, they can be multifaceted women, where they can hold more than one position at any given time in their lives, and their career endpoint could be constantly evolving and maybe infinite.”