Fulfilling the Mandate : SWCM 3rd Annual Colloquium
Written by Amogelang Molefe
“Each generation bears a profound mission, and they are faced with two choices: to either advance or betray its mission.” These eloquent words, spoken by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC at SWCM’s 3rd Annual Women’s Day Colloquium, serve as the focal point of this article.
Upon arrival at the colloquium, the first striking feature of the experience was the chosen location for the event: the Women’s jail situated at Constitutional Hill, a former prison complex that bears witness to South Africa’s troubled history. As I gazed upon the names of remarkable women etched onto stone plaques alongside the South African flag, a number of profound realisations struck me as I ventured into and around the jail cells themselves.
Firstly, these were the lived experiences of individuals who ardently believed in a cause greater than themselves. They endured extreme hardships, such as starvation, torture, and confinement in overcrowded cells. Their sacrifices were not rooted in convenience, for such circumstances are not willingly embraced by any human. However, they recognised the imperative dream of a future where generations would be born free from shackles within a democratic society that values gender equality. Secondly, in the words of Amanda Gorman, “For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.” Now, it falls upon our shoulders to either further this mission or forsake it. Each of the women who endured the confines of those prison cells did so with the vision that future generations of women, like myself, would one day occupy benches in the Constitutional Court, Superior Courts, and even International Courts, serving without fear, favour, or prejudice.
During the course of the event , Advocate Kgomotso Moroka SC offered a simple yet profound statement that “Women must support each other.” It compelled me to reflect on how I, personally, contribute to the support of other women. This could entail ensuring that no girl in my community experiences her menstrual cycle without access to necessary sanitary products, assisting her in submitting her university application in a timely manner, or providing the information needed to make informed career decisions. Our collective rise is intricately tied to the act of uplifting others, and organisations like SWCM have empowered me by manifesting my dreams—placing me in the same room as accomplished black female advocates, attorneys, judges, and leaders in the state attorney’s office.
The speakers at the colloquium shed light on the harsh realities of the transformation agenda and the daily challenges faced by women in the legal profession. It became evident that pioneers such as Mama Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, and Helen Suzman fought tirelessly to ensure that women held positions of influence in all spheres of society. Now, as women, it is our responsibility to seize the power that accompanies these positions and enact remarkable change for the benefit of future generations. As Advocate Moroka aptly stated, “We have the office, but we must also possess the power.”