SA Army hosts women’s indaba


August is Women’s Month in South Africa and the national defence force is part and parcel of it with the SA Army hosting what was colloquially called a women’s indaba.

Officially the women’s conference for SA Army female leaders, under the auspices of the landward force transformation management office, focused on matters affecting women in uniform as well as their vision for the largest component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

At the conference SA Army Chief, Lieutenant-General Lawrence Mbatha, pointed out the month was based on ongoing interventions across the work of government, civil society and the private sector in the context of national priorities.

“We in the SA Army remain part of this ecosystem, so it is crucial for us to use such gatherings as a barometer to measure progress and engage robustly to further advance the women empowerment agenda”, the three-star said.

Other speakers included Chief of Defence Intelligence, Lieutenant-General Thalita Mxakato, whose topic was women’s leadership; retired Major General Memela Motumi, who spoke on SANDF transformation and what the programme called an “authentic leadership programme”.

Mxakato told those present that women “bring unique insights and strengths that can enhance the overall effectiveness of military operations”.

“Women in uniform have contributed immensely in conflict areas,” she said, adding “we have seen the contribution of women in Burundi, the role women played in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and currently with other diplomats in Mozambique”.

“Women have been identified through a concerted effort by the United Nations (UN) to play a critical role in ensuring countries adhere to the transformation agenda adopted by the UN in deploying women in significant numbers and in areas where women can contribute meaningfully in ensuring there is peace, stability and security,” was part of her message to the female component of the Army.

The event was the landward force tribute to the 67th anniversary of a women’s march to the Union Buildings to protest the pass laws of the then National Party government.