This GLAMOUR Women’s Month Series is an ode to women who are following the beat of their drum and doing it successfully.
The woman we are featuring on this second instalment of our month-long series is Springbok women’s prop and current captain, Babalwa Latsha.
She is a grounded and well-rounded individual born into a close-knit family with a strong value system. The Springbok’s prop grew up in Khayelitsha - a township outside of Cape Town that sprung up during apartheid.
She is a member of the township and takes part in local activities that include programmes aimed at empowering woman.
Latsha first took over the captaincy duties from another brilliant player Nolusindiso Booi when she suffered a foot injury before a Test match against Spain last year.
Latsha’s unique skills and authenticity sets her apart from many of her peers. She told Glamour that she’s “rooted in my culture and I am very much aware of who I am and what I would like to represent.”
GLAMOUR: Playing rugby has given you opportunities and now you are one of a few South African women plying her trade overseas, please tell us about this?
Babalwa Latsha (BL): Playing rugby has offered me many opportunities – one of which was the opportunity to ply my trade abroad.
Rugby has opened up a whole new world for me, one which has enabled me to be empowered and also empower those around me.
In essence, I have been given a voice by the sport. Mine is to speak of empowerment, and to speak to empowerment, elevation and celebration of the youth and their development in the world we live in.
Rugby has allowed me to embrace all of that and the process of understanding the bigger picture that the sport paints.
GLAMOUR: Which woman has positively impacted you in your career? And what is the one lesson she taught you?
BL: The one woman from whom I have learned quite a lot is Serena Williams. She has taught me – even though she may not have been aware of it – to constantly break down barriers and not be afraid to do so.
To constantly go further and beyond expectation and be the best that you possibly can be at what you do. That is what makes you. That is what makes you a resilient, brilliant athlete and woman. One that is constantly working and breaking away from mediocrity.
GLAMOUR What are the three words that spring to mind when you hear Women's Day/Month?
BL: Resilience, beauty and empowerment.
GLAMOUR: To you, what is the most beautiful thing about being a woman?
BL: To me the most beautiful thing about being a woman is the uniqueness. No-one carries themselves quite like women, with such elegance, power, passion and purpose. Also, to have the ability to touch peoples lives and hearts and to see them flourish.
GLAMOUR: In your industry or in general, have you seen any more movement to gender equality in the workplace?
BL: In an industry that is male dominated, I find that there are concerted efforts to move towards a direction that we can genuinely say there is gender equality.
And we appreciate and embrace that, although there is still some work to do in terms of getting to that destination.
GLAMOUR: As a woman who looks to inspire young girls that look like you, what are some of the measures you think should be put in place to assure young girls have an equal say in society?
BL: I think there should be a collective effort toward grooming a generation of young girls who are able to have any say at all before we can speak of them having an equal say. And this is vital because young girls are the future.
They are future leaders who I would like to see occupy decision-making roles, and in order to facilitate that we need to have programmes in place at grassroots level, school, universities and in communities.
These programmes should uplift and empower young women so that they may be in a position to have an equal say.
GLAMOUR: With Black Lives Matter being at the forefront and black people calling out racism and transformation. What do you think we can teach the next generation about inclusion and representation?
BL: The most important thing is education. We need to teach the current generation about the danger of racism and a lack of transformation, and the future generation about racism as well, so that they will be able to call it out.
Racism is unacceptable no matter where you go, whether it is in the workplace, sport or society. Racism is an ill that we need to weed out collectively.
We also need to make an effort to correct the past wrongs and teachings of racism – even if means we take little steps, but steps forward.
In our education system we need to start driving the conversation of the end of racism and one of transformation.
The key thing is to educate about inclusiveness and representation so that we may understand, and the next generation understands, and ultimately, we can truly live up to the rainbow nation.
GLAMOUR: Gender Based Violence (GBV) especially women and children abuse has been prevalent in the country for a very long time and there have been various initiatives that speak to this but the scourge of abuse still continues at a large scale, what would you advise as a solution going forward? And who should be involved?
BL: I think the time has come that the men of this country from all walks of life and all races and creeds stand up and say No to gender-based violence.
I think the men, in particular, need to take a stand and say what is happening in our country is unacceptable and needs to stop. All hands to be on deck and we need to call out each other when these things happen.
We should not be turning a blind eye, justifying or apologising for any of it. We need to root out this evil in our society, so we should all be involved.
GLAMOUR: What does women’s month mean to you and what would you like to see being done to push or commemorate this month?
BL: Women’s month to me means the celebration of the greatness of women. We as women in this country stand firmly on the shoulders of giants.
Those who fought against the segregationist system of Apartheid in the past, and those who laid down their lives as women so that this generation of women can live freely, live their truth and stand firm in who they are.
To commemorate that, we need to celebrate, elevate and empower women constantly. And we as women, we need to do the same, to celebrate how far we have come and our freedom as women.
GLAMOUR: As a modern African woman, who is a powerhouse in her own right, how do you maneuver the African expectations for what Africa believes a woman should be, particularly in countries that are rooted in patriarchy like ours?
BL: For a long time, women were oppressed, silenced, and watered down, with their presence not being acknowledged.
The modern-day African woman however understands her power and the role she plays in her society, and she is not afraid to stand up and take the opportunities that are presented to her to effect positive changes in her country.
That is the type of women we see today. It all begins on the inside.
GLAMOUR: What are some of the great possibilities about being a woman in the world right now, that may not be easy to see but you feel women should take full advantage of without being ashamed or afraid?
BL: The world is for us to conquer, particularly because we are slowly moving towards a direction that embraces women. And those are the opportunities we need to capitalise on.
Those are the possibilities in the world that we can take full advantage of without being afraid or ashamed. There is no shame in wanting to succeed. The world is alive with possibilities and opportunities.
In the business sector, sporting world and in society in general we see more and more women in managerial positions and top leadership positions and that is the world that I want to live in.
GLAMOUR: The imposter syndrome is something a lot of women confess to suffer from or have suffered from.
Have you ever had to deal with it? What would you say to another woman reading this about not letting the syndrome run one’s life in anyway?
BL: Traditionally our society highlights, amplifies and celebrates men and because of that as women we sometime feel that we need to work much harder just to prove ourselves.
And sometimes our achievements and successes are not recognised as they should be. Often, we feel we are not doing enough. And to those women I’d like to say, you are a thousand times enough.
Your achievements, your efforts, your hard work are seen and is enough, and we should understand this before we find ourselves being run by the imposter syndrome. You are worthy day in and day out.
GLAMOUR: How has self-care contributed to the woman you are in all facets of your life?
Why is self-care important, particularly for women, as most of us are raised to believe we put everyone else first before ourselves?
BL: Sometimes we have to retreat to ourselves, give back to ourselves and love ourselves harder than we ever have before. That means taking care of yourself.
It means you understand the value of your wellbeing. In order for us as women to live our true purpose and passion, we need to take care of ourselves – in all facets of life - mentally, physically and emotionally.
So, for once put yourself first and make yourself happy, so that that happiness can be felt and enjoyed by those around you.
Self-care contributes tremendously in my life as well because in order to give of myself to the world and be the best I can be, I need to give to myself first.
Women in Rugby sponsored by BrightRock in support of the Players’ Fund are hosting a webinar on Thursday, 6 August 2020.
Babalwa Latsha and Zintle Mpupha (Springboks woman’s seven captain), will be interviewed by former Springbok Captain and current Chairman - Jean de Villiers at 19:30 on Thursday.