A Table View non-profit organisation, Women and Beyond, walked away with the humanitarian award at the seventh annual Fabulous Woman Awards held at the Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers in Century City, on Saturday August 3.
The awards are the brainchild of businesswoman and philanthropist, Pontsho Manzi. This was the first time they have been held in Cape Town. Media entrepreneur Carol Bouwer and UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng were among the guest speakers.
The woman behind Women and Beyond, Basha Taylor, said it was an honour to win the award among the other “giants” she had been up against.
Other finalists in her category included the NPO, Girls with Wings, which encourages more girls to have an interest in aviation, and gender activist Rosie Motene.
But it was Ms Taylor’s turn to be recognised for the work she’s been doing with Women and Beyond for the past 12 years. The NPO offers counselling and support to women and children affected by poverty. Ms Taylor was cheered on by her husband, Omolemo Tlhapane, and two sons, Herman and Tshireletso, who accompanied her to the black-tie event.
“This year we turned 12. If it had to take 12 years to be recognised, it’s been worth it. It’s a humbling platform I won’t take for granted,” she said.
Last year, Ms Taylor and her team of 23 volunteers hosted motivational talks at several schools about reproductive and mental health and the importance of education.
Other highlights included free HIV counselling and testing to over 800 girls on World Aids Day and reaching out to young girls in rural areas.
“Illiteracy is a big problem in the rural areas. There are children who don’t even know what a computer looks like.”
Ms Taylor said Women’s Month was the only time organisations such as Women and Beyond had a chance to speak about things people did not like to talk to about.
“If we still living with the dialogue ‘what were you wearing?’, or ‘did you provoke him?’ then we are still in crisis,” she said.
Ms Pontso said women’s challenges were the same around the world, and she encouraged women to embrace their dreams and take advantage of opportunities.
Ms Bouwer said the awards were held in one of the most violent cities in the world. “It’s not due to a lack of absent fathers. It’s due to a lack of absent leaders,” she said.
Professor Phakeng said there were three kinds of oppression: political, spiritual and cognitive.
“Cognitive oppression affects the way you see yourself and the way you feel about yourself. It limits what you think you are capable of,” she said.
“This world is set up to make women forget how powerful they are. It’s easy to think there is something wrong with you. Remember your moments of power,” she said.
Women should not apologies for being who they were, she said, adding that she herself was “a little odd”.
“Just be, because you are enough,” she said.