The GLAMOUR Women’s Month Series is an ode to women who are following the beat of their drum and doing it successfully.
Mali Langa (born Malehu Anna) is an award-winning, dynamic and enigmatic businesswoman, mother, wife and creative. She hails from the beautiful Limpopo province in South Africa and in all facets of life, is a true African woman at heart. With a professional background in the interior design, mining, transport, logistics and insurance sectors, Mali has earned hands-on experience in a wide range of business areas both at an executive level and in an entrepreneurial capacity.
Mali Langa is an accomplished entrepreneur and business leader, with more than 14 years of professional experience, and a solid performance record of directing business development, client retention, sales and marketing strategies. With a signature passion for enterprise development, Mali has found and runs multiple successful commercial businesses in high-stakes, competitive industries.
With a keen nature for continuous professional development, Mali has founded multiple commercial ventures across diverse industries, her latest involvement being the establishment of Task Interior Styling. The boutique interior décor and design studio was started in 2016 and within 3 years has reached award-winning status with Mali at the helm.
Which woman has positively impacted you in your career/business? And what is the one lesson she taught you?
I am inspired by Carol Bouwer. I look at her work and what she does and I think to myself, here is an upstanding woman in society with great business sense, a heart of gold, generous to the core and down to earth despite her great success. Looking at her as a woman, she has shown me how I wish to be seen.
What are the three words that spring to mind when you hear Women's Day/Month?
To you, what is the most beautiful thing about being a woman?
There is nothing greater than motherhood. A mother sits at the top of the pyramid of humanity. Through our empathy and love we sculpt the future of the world.
In your industry or in general, have you seen any more movement to gender equality in the workplace?
Interior styling is generally thought of as a feminine pursuit. But the truth is that my company does it all, from the styling to interior design, 3D visualisation, project management, construction, art-making, all of it and beyond! I think we are seeing more women in traditionally male dominated roles such as project management, shopfitting, and furniture making. Women can work with their hands just as well as men, but the difference is that after we shake the dust off, we still manage to look fabulous.
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?
It starts with the way we raise boys. It starts with the way our dads open their minds to women’s issues. It starts with removing gender from colours, toys, clothing, activities, and professions. Our kids need to know they can do absolutely anything in life without someone telling them they can’t do it because they are either girl or boy.
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?
We teach by doing and by showing. It is not enough for one person to rise above their circumstances and embody black excellence. All of us need to step up to break stereotypes and layers of historic disadvantage. If each parent makes it their mission to inspire their kids through their ambitions and actions, lasting transformation will accelerate.
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?
If we had a simple solution, we would have used it by now. However, the way the voices of the victims of GBV have been amplified in the media in the last year has been tremendous, even though it came a great cost. This narrative needs to continue in honour of current and fallen victims. All men and women need to keep sharing stories of abuse, talk about the issues that are facing us, that’s the only way to build a culture that does not tolerate the abuse that women sweep under the rug, neighbours act like they do not hear, and that some men think they have a right to.
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 platform to highlight the struggles and burdens of women who are expected to fill roles that should not be our sole responsibility as well as the layers of historic disadvantage. But what I love most about this month is highlighting the power and success of our female leaders, those stories inspire others and give them that nudge out of the door they need to empower themselves.
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?
Tradition has its place. But as a society we must learn where to draw the line between cultural practice versus oppressive norms and roles. As Africans we need to adjust our thinking to the rights of all, and if we don’t, we cannot expect to be taken seriously by the rest of the world. How do I live this lesson? I do not ask permission, and I do not apologise…not for being a woman, hell no.
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?
Women somehow embody human empathy, emotion and love to a greater extent than men. We must never be afraid to show our softer sides, because there is great power in compassion. These are values men are taught not to show, and it is their greatest weakness.
Our bodies have also been objectified for hundreds of years. But we must always remember that we are not beautiful and sexy for the benefit of men, we were made that way by God, and we are allowed to own it without being made to feel it is wrong to embrace it.
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?
Your journey cannot truly begin until you have learned to believe in yourself. Greatness is not something you are born with, you make it happen! Understand that and show others that you believe in yourself, and the world will be at your feet!
Women have more drive, because we have been pushed down, women have more cause to believe in a better world, because we have been pushed down, women have more motivation to believe in themselves, because we know in our bones, we should have never been pushed at all. Just think of that whenever you feel unworthy.
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 women are raised to believe that they have to put everyone else first before themselves?
Looking good gives you confidence. Confidence gives you the world.
Ladies, you cannot take care of others if you do not take care of yourself. You cannot love others if you do not love yourself. So, cut out the cancers of self-doubt, cut out those who want to bring you down to maintain control. Self-care is not selfish, it teaches self-respect, it teaches your daughter how to be the woman you want her to be.