Female staff within the College of Health Sciences (CHS) recently came together to celebrate struggles faced by women the world over under the theme Doek on Fleek: Untold Stories.

The gathering aimed to highlight the journey of a woman from child to adult with special emphasis on one’s “magnificent self”.

Professor Busisiwe Ncama, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and College Head, spoke about the late Nelson Mandela’s work and legacy towards the improvement of the lives of women and children. ‘The year 2018 should not only be about celebrating Madiba’s life, but continuing with his legacy. While Mandela is best known for promoting African dignity in the liberation struggle, he left humanity with the legacy to improve the welfare of the marginalised, especially women and children. We should not forget the successful fights he waged for the emancipation of women and children. This is articulated in one of his famous quotes when he said “freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression,’ she said.

Ncama also warned guests against what has been dubbed the “Pull Her Down” (PHD) syndrome; which describes women sabotaging each other in order to get ahead. ‘PHD syndrome must fall. I am fortunate at CHS that we have had strong women who have been helping each other to rise through the ranks. The Women in Leadership committee is one such strategy. We must hold meetings as women leaders, explore opportunities and help each other climb the ranks. Where a woman is in power, let us see other women coming through the ranks,’ she said.

Dressed to emphasise their South African identities, guests wore doeks (headwraps) whilst the history and method of tying a doek was demonstrated by School of Clinical Medicine staff member, Ms Thuli Ngcobo, amidst song and dance. The ladies were also educated on how to manage the impact of hormones. Professor Motshedisi Sebitloane, Head of UKZN’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said women are at times unwell due to hormones at play between the ages of 15-45. ‘Hormones consisting of estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, are essential for women during the reproductive ages. Estrogen and progesterone are found in common contraceptives and if used for a minimum of five years, have been proven to protect women from ovarian cancer,’ she said.

UKZN Psychiatrist, Dr Suvira Ramlall, addressed the issue of mental health which is surrounded by stigma due to many misunderstandings and myths. ‘Sanity does not come in a bottle. Medication is only 50 % of the solution. Take care of yourselves as you are the most valuable asset in your families. Invest in you,’ she said.

Guests were also treated to Laughter Therapy by internationally renowned guru, Ms Sharon Chetty.

The final presentation was on the Tea Cup Story, My Magnificence by Dr Veena Singaram, an academic in the School of Clinical Medicine, who mentioned a number of women who took the time to invest in their happiness and are reaping the benefits. One of those is JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photographs supplied