Media personality and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey was one of the speakers at yesterday's Isithunzi Sabafazi (the Dignity of Women) event that took place at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus as part of the Global Citizen Festival and as a tribute to the late Nelson Mandela.
She started off her powerful speech with memories of her time with the late Nelson Mandela, and she mentioned the idea they both had to start the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls with the hopes of eradicating poverty by educating young girls.
"I believe that women are going to save South Africa," Oprah said as her motivation for building the school and striving to educate young girls. "I built a school to give girls who look like me, who came from backgrounds like me, who didn't have the means but had the brain power and the will to succeed - I wanted to give those girls a chance," she said.
Adding to Oprah's sentiment, Graça Machel said that "women will heal this continent".
"I want to end with a Nelson Mandela quote, and this one is my favorite...'I never lose, I either win or I learn'. 'Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation. Be great!!" - @Oprah #Mandela100 #NotYetUhuruSA #IsithunziSabafazi #BeTheLegacy— Public Broadcaster (@Nyiko_Shik) November 29, 2018
“Everytime you find yourself in a space where you are alone, and your standing as one black women in a sea of adversity remember these words by Maya Angelou ‘I come as one but I stand as ten thousand’”@Oprah #BeTheLegacy #Mandela100 #IsiThunziSabafazi #NotYetUhuru— notyetuhuru (@NotYetUhuruSA) November 29, 2018
In speaking about the power of education, service and mentorship, the most empowering words in Oprah's speech were that women can change our society significantly.
At the launch of the feminist multimedia hub, #NotYetUhuru, earlier this month, one of the speakers mentioned that 57% of women in the country are set to vote in the coming elections, and this is only one of the reasons why it is necessary that our society and its leaders adopt a feminist mindset in tackling women's issues.
LAUNCH DAY: Pamela Moore from the Canadian High Commission discussing Gender Equality, the GBV summit as well as touching on the historic implementation of a Feminist Foreign Policy that the Canadian government adopted. #NotYetUhuruSA #2019FeministGov #Uhuru4Womxn #GirlTalkZA pic.twitter.com/0rB6Mppivi— notyetuhuru (@NotYetUhuruSA) November 13, 2018
“Uhuru to me is about claiming your space as a black womxn, it’s a platform for all womxn to feel free in all walks of life may it be in the workplace or social surroundings. I want to be able to go for a run without the fear of being raped or killed". @_AndiB pic.twitter.com/28VT396Cju— notyetuhuru (@NotYetUhuruSA) November 7, 2018
Because women, as Oprah herself said, are the key to empowering and uplifting a society, it is both necessary and important for women to be recognised, protected, educated and to be given the tools they need to break through glass ceilings and pave the way to success for young girls.
The empowerment of women, after all, is a means to the liberation of a society.
Following the countless protests, campaigns and manifestos that were created around women's issues this year alone - from gender-based violence to sexual and reproductive health - Oprah's and Graça Machel's speeches on the potential that women have and the importance of having their voices heard are reminders that there is so much more that needs to be done before we reach a state of uhuru as a country.
Watch below: Is’thunzi Sabafazi (The Dignity of Women) conversation
Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.