Namaskaram Srotalu (Greetings to all)
What about yourself are you celebrating this Women’s month?
Yes, August is our month. I celebrate thematically. The 2020 theme is:“Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for An Equal Society Now”. So, we have a lot of work still to do achieve equality. By 2030 we have to achieve SDG5-Gender equality: We have to empower all girls and women in the next 10 years.
What about being a woman inspires you?
Simply put: Where would the world be without women. That’s a power feeling and powerful position to hold in one’s lifetime. Let me explain this with a few egs:
- We are not second-class citizens
- Custodians of culture
- In marriage: Two halves, one whole
- Special qualities – multi task
- We are eternal, life-giving energy, integrating people, communities and nations.
Role in that organization and how it helped them to serve the community
- I got elected to the MF Women’s League in 1998, as the Chair. This was a very important position because all our activities were based on empowering girls, young and older women.
- It gave me opportunities to serve the community through political programmes which were issue based. From this, feedback and experience held me in good stead to fight the 1999 Parliamentary elections and I won my seat from Phoenix. I now had the powerful opportunity to be the voice of girls and women in the KZN Legislature and change laws to close inequality gaps between women and men.
Service to the community as an individual (or) through an organization
This reminds me of Edgar Scheins “Come Theory” where an organisation is made up of individuals and is only as strong as the individuals. Therefore, is best to serve people whether as an individual but through an organisation. No man or woman is an island. We live in an interconnected and inter-dependant world. I believe the Coronavirus has taught us that unity is strength, very aggressively. If you think as an individual only, this is not selfless but selfish. I will always promote and support organisations and work with them to do community service or seva.
As a Champion for serving the community, what do you believe is the most important quality you need to have?
In terms of Leadership qualities, responsibility is my most important quality. Responsibility and prompt action go together. The objective of taking a courageous stand remember, is to resolve challenges rather than to prolong indecisions. The community needs good decision-makers. As a woman, a responsible personality brings out a deep sense of care and compassion. People need leaders with value systems.
Who is your role model and why?
Lord Shri Krishna says: Matha, Pitha, Guru Devtha. Yes, my role model will always be my mother, paternal and maternal grand- mothers’.
• Mother: She’s my talking “Mirror” – advises me wisely and truthfully, so I can’t go wrong- Keeps my emotional quotient in check.
• Paternal grandmother: Opened my spiritual quotient first by making me a Mata Saraswathi devotee from a child. Education is a girl’s real empowerment.
• Maternal grandmother: Always supportive during challenges, taught me the limitation of my Intellectual quotient. “Fist phenomena” God has given you only certain qualities of material wealth.
How do you think we women can help each other instead of competing?
Women need to live by design, not default. We need to start with a positive attitude. More important than being powered by position is to be empowered by disposition because “success” doesn’t depend on position but disposition. So, woman can help each other, absolutely by engaging with a “win-win” attitude. Where women “win”, we all win. So, no need to compete, but rather co-operate.
Share with us any setbacks that you experienced in your career.
As a woman politician both good reputation and character is vital to me and I have suffered financial losses in court cases, just to ensure that my credibility and the respect earned was not lost. So, I relied heavily on judges to conclude that whatever decisions I took was right for the right reasons. As a female politician, our male counterparts are ruthless, especially during elections. They tell you casually, that politics is all about perceptions and not to take attacks personally.
How did you overcome these setbacks?
To overcome constantly proving my worth and practice the values I believe in without second guessing myself, especially after Mr Rajbansi passed on; I realised that I needed a drastic mindset change where “courage” must become my constant state of mind. Courage is the most important value which makes all other values possible. I took this decision because, I am an achiever and for “Achievers, credibility is priceless”.
What’s your Women’s day message?
This August, I want women to think about their contribution to “Generation Equality” to “realise our rights for an equal society now”. We all need to be go-getters; we need to make things happen. The COVID-19 lockdown has changed the way we now do things. We women must learn to respond, not react. Be proactive, not reactive. Being proactive and responsive are positive traits and will move the pace at which women can reduce the remaining equality gap.
Velli Vastanu Srotalu (Goodbye listeners)
South African Telugu Community Interview
Program: Women’s Day
Interviewee: Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi
Date: 09 August 2020, Sunday
Topic: Women’s Month