This GLAMOUR Women’s Month Series is an ode to women who are following the beat of their drum and doing it successfully.
Dr Moepeng Maseko, is a MBChB graduate from the University of Cape Town class of 2016. She completed her internship in the Free State. She's worked in government and private hospitals across the Western Cape. She will be starting her registrarship in Virology at the National Health Laboratory Services in September where she will be training to become a specialist in the field of clinical Virology.
Dr Maseko is one of the people in the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 and she took her time from her hectic schedule to chat to GLAMOUR.
Which woman has positively impacted you in your career/business? And what is the one lesson she taught you?
My mother. The one lesson she taught me was no matter what your life or career throws at you, always remember the journey prepares you for the destination, so keep travelling.
What are the three words that spring to mind when you hear Women's Day/Month?
Women’s day for me is a reminder of the beauty, resilience and ability to survive that women have.
To you, what is the most beautiful thing about being a woman?
The most beautiful thing about being a woman is our ability to keep doing what needs to be done, despite challenges, setbacks and lack of support or recognition. The ability to keep rising despite everything being against us is a beautiful quality to possess.
In your industry or in general, have you seen any more movement to gender equality in the workplace?
In my industry, there has been a visible effort to allowing more women to enter the field and positions previously occupied by men, a great start with more to be done.
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?
Teaching young girls their worth from an early age, and ensuring that they recognize that they belong in spaces that previously were not “for women”.
Recognizing that people that make the decisions in our society tend to take action once they are forced/pressured to do so, therefore laws and legislation should be implemented to ensure that women are given equitable opportunities for advancement within workspaces.
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?
As long as there is inequality within the world racial harmony will be difficult to achieve. So, the next generations need to look at redressing the socio-economic structures that are the root causes of division and hatred. Once these have been met, people can meet as true equals and devise strategies to construct the best way forward for all. Future leaders should commit to making the people they serve a priority as opposed to lining their own pockets.
The next generation should also learn to acknowledge that as much as people of other races are allowed to exist in all spaces, black people should also be given that same respect and it shouldn't be seen as unique or special but simply normal.
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 continues at a large scale, what would you advise as a solution going forward? And who should be involved?
I think the GBV issue starts with the government putting action to words. We need stricter laws for offenders, fast-tracking court cases and appearances to prevent intimidation and murder of victims. Improving police resources so we can have improved convictions rates and better investigations in general. We need educated police officers who are committed to protecting victims and harsh punishment for those who are not.
Improving health care resources that health professionals like myself can have somewhere to refer patients/victims of abuse instead of having to hear them say they have nowhere else to go a because their abuser is also the breadwinner. The health system is in dire need of social workers and psychologists because we are obsessed with the safety of victims which is important but their mental health has been held captive for so long by their abusers, that it is hard to live after leaving these abusers. Empowering women with resources and support will go a long way to decrease the scourge of abuse.
What does women’s month mean to you and what would you like to be done to push or commemorate this month?
Women’s month is a reminder to me that we have a long way to go before society treats our women as it should. It cannot be that we have resources to fight Covid-19, but we have had one of the highest femicide rates in the world for years and still, not enough resources have been committed to fighting this pandemic. We should be using women’s month to hold government accountable for lack of seriousness attributed to the very serious problem we have in this country of GBV.
As a modern African woman, who is a powerhouse in her own right, how do you manoeuvre the African expectations for what Africa believes a woman should be, particularly in countries that are rooted in patriarchy like ours?
Women have been doing it all for generations before and they continue to do so currently, the only difference is now they are also contributing financially to the household, we should be celebrating the advancement of women and encourage men to offer more than finances because as women, we are leaving them behind. I respect my African identity and heritage, mutual respect and understanding that being a leader in the workplace does not mean I aspire to be the man of the house at home. We need to educate some men in this regard.
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?
A woman can be everything she chooses to be. Take the first step and keep walking. During medical school, some of the women I looked up to are now heads of department, getting recognition for their addition to the clinical space, they are pioneers in their own right and they had no one to look up to, but now I have someone, so the first step has been taken, we can all get there.
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 any way?
When you finally enter the hospital as a doctor post-medical school, it’s a tough place to be if you are not mentally strong, the environment isn’t kind, the stress of constantly being faced with life and death situations and the increased number of deaths you have to be exposed to can make one feel like an imposter, no matter how many lives saved, that one death can bring feelings of inadequacy despite knowing that there was nothing more to be done.
Ways to not let it run your life comes with having a positive mental state. Acknowledging every single thing you’ve done right, every simple action taken resulting in a positive outcome must be identified and celebrated. When things go wrong don’t dwell on them, identify and learn from them and do better. Lastly, acknowledge how far you’ve come from where you started, every day is a step forward in the right direction and adds a page to your book of experience.
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?
There is a common saying that when you educate a man you educate a person and when you educate a woman you empower a family. The ability to be nurturing is one that is ingrained in the African female psyche but the pursuit of individual happiness is not. This is where self-care is vital, it provides a word, activity and time for a woman to pursue the happiness within herself that allows her to be the light source for her loved ones. As women (and people in general) we need to find what makes us happy and do it, our happiness allows us to be able to recognize or to share happiness, misery loves company, but so does happiness.