Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has graciously reflected on a story that is arguably one of the most relatable ones – marriage.

Dr Nkosazana – who is currently serving as the minister of the Presidency for planning, monitoring and evaluation, and is the former chairperson of the African Union Commission – was speaking at the Forbes Africa Leading Women Summit for International Women’s Day. According to iOL, she said marriage was one of her insecurities.

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“As a young girl growing up in the rural areas you are also made to feel, not necessarily by your family but society in general, that you are there to grow up, to get married and to have kids."

She said her community would ask questions when she decided to pursue medicine after her first degree. Comments included the likes of “When is she going to get married?”

“So I always have this feeling that this thing of marriage was a worry to me, but I also know that it was important to society,” said the minister. “I felt very insecure about how I would manage in marriage. That was one of my insecurities and maybe that’s why I eventually opted out. That’s one thing I never managed to really come to grips with. If you like, it's one of my failures.”

However, she says she is not against marriage or building a family, but says it’s important be free, have your self-esteem and your confidence.

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She said: “At the end of the day you can only transfer to people what you are passionate about. I think it’s important to have families, it’s important to keep a family but it’s also important to be free as an individual because if you are not free you are not going to be able to transfer that freedom to your kids.”

She says her upbringing was an aspect that helped her when making such decisions. “Fortunately,” she said, “my father also said ‘you must go to school you girls because I don’t want you staying in a toxic situation because of a plate of food’ so I think that also helped me as a young kid and also helped me when I was faced with situations, that I can opt out.

“I encourage people to stay in marriage when it’s nice, because that’s what it should be. Divorce [or] opting out is not ideal, staying in is ideal but not because you are persevering – ukubekezela, no.”

She also had more insights to share about International Women's Day:

According to East Coast Radio:

We have to reflect on how can we ensure that women are not sitting and thinking, 'Am I going to get beaten up today?'

And from Twitter: 

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