This GLAMOUR Women’s Month Series is an ode to women who are following the beat of their drum and doing it successfully.
The first woman we are featuring is Impact entrepreneur and founder of Agenda Women, Nomndeni Mdakhi.
Mdakhi has been a businesswoman since 2009 when she launched a deejaying school for girls called Fuse Academy. She then launched her 2nd company Edits Communications in 2011 which has worked with brands such as Orgs, Unilever, Castle Lager and others.
In 2017 Mdakhi launched Edits Talk, which has now grown into Agenda Women, an online platform that brings women together to learn from each other and grow.
Mdakhi is currently busy planning for the Agenda Women Summit taking place from the 8th of August. She took some time from her pressing schedule to chat with us.
Which woman has positively impacted you in your career/business? And what is the one lesson she taught you?
I am surrounded by a lot of amazing women, it would be difficult to pick one. My tribe has been so inspiring. The more I engage with women, the more I realize the power that lies dormant in isolation and the importance in being organized in our efforts to help each other rise. There has also been a lot of men who have opened doors for me and I have to pick a prominent inspirational figure, I would have to go with Michelle Obama. Her poise, grace and an unshaken resolve is inspiring.
What are the three words that spring to mind when you hear Women's Day/Month?
Disheartening, Realignment, Remembrance.
To you, what is the most beautiful thing about being a woman?
The dichotomy of feminine energy. Finding harmony in inhabiting the opposites. Holding empathy, femininity and care at the center of who we are and also being able to stand in resilience and power with equal conviction.
In your industry or in general, have you seen any more movement to gender equality in the workplace?
I think there is intention and some effort but it is not organized or supported at the level that it should be to accelerate change. A discouraging stat was shared at the WEF in 2019. The stat revealed that at the current rate it will take us 99,5 years to achieve gender equality. This means, I may not experience a gender equal society in my lifetime.
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?
Intention is not enough, we have to create an enabling environment. It has be engrained in the policy of the country, the school policies and professional organizational charters.
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?
Our visible and tangible differences do not reflect our talents. The way you look does not define your abilities and intrinsic values.
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?
We have to have a top down and bottom up approach. Top down Investigates the impact of leadership and what they can do to move the women agenda forward. Bottom up looks at organization galvanizing socio economic issues through the breadth of touchpoints like, how boys see themselves relative to girls, women and the men around them etc. All of it matters.
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 not a calendar marker for me, it’s a milestone reminder of the task at hand to close the gaps and to revive the activism by both men and women in the emancipation of the female gender.
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?
Culture and our relationship to it is relative. It has also been used as a shield for many patriarchal agendas. There is so much beauty in culture and I would not throw the baby with the bath water. I love being an African women and African culture is a big part of that identity. A deep commitment to understanding the way things were has helped me in my relationship with culture.
What are some of the great possibilties 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?
Employment Equity presents a gateway for opportunity, a small one but it is is still a gateway that can be used and taken advantage of. Excellence will be noticed. #WomenGetReady change is coming, there is no escaping it. All the effort will be recognised, I am positive about that.
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?
I don’t think this is only a women issue. I have a lot of men in prominent positions who still suffer with impostor syndrome. This is a confidence disease and looks different at different levels of your life experiences. Self - motivation, focus, clarity, and discipline are the key attributes that get us ready for rooms we may never believe we need to be part of.
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?
It’s a hard transformation but a necessary one. Self - care for me is about taking time out from the opinions and voices of others in order to reconnect with my inner voice. Mediation and fasting are practises that slow down the constant chatter of the mind so that I can think clearly and create from the inside out.
Mdakhi also currently serves as a board member for LEAD Africa, a New York based NGO empowering African future leaders through quality education and sports.