This GLAMOUR Women’s Month Series is an ode to women who are following the beat of their drum and doing it successfully.
Today for our series we chat to businesswoman and founder of Duma Collective, Sibu Mabena.
Mabena holds a BA in Political Science and International Relations. She has extensive experience in Event Production, Sponsorship Acquisition, Performance Direction and Street, and Social Media Marketing. She has worked on several live events shows including South Africa Music Awards, South African Film, and Television Awards, Metro FM Awards, GLO CAF Awards 2015 and 2016, MTV Base Africa Awards 2015 and 2016, Castle Lite Presents J Cole, Axecess Jozi, SAB Conference, South African Sports Awards, and some TV work including the 2017 AFCON TVC, Revlon’s Special Feeling TVC, and MTV Base Lip Sync Battle.
Mabena had a chat with us as we celebrate Women’s Month.
Which woman has positively impacted you in your career/business? And what is the one lesson she taught you?
My older sister Ntombi Mabena is one of the toughest and most incredible people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. She’s 17 years older than me and that age gap allows her to occasionally correct me like a mother but have fun with me like a sister. I grew up watching her grow from an employee at a city council whilst moonlighting as a teller at Mc Donalds to working for my dad at his Gun Shop to owning her Stationary and Office supply business when no Black person let alone a woman was doing that to going back to working for Government to going back to entrepreneurship to work on her very successful interior décor company. From her, I’ve learnt that nothing beats a good work ethic. Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.
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?
Our empathy, our ability to care for people more than we care for ourselves, our super humanness by being able to carry and bring life to the world as well as our innate ability to nurture…at home and in business.
In your industry or in general, have you seen any more movement to gender equality in the workplace?
I’ve seen some significant growth in the marketing space. We’re seeing a lot more women in positions of power in EXCO’s of large multinational FMCG corporations. I’m also seeing more female agency owners and directors as well as creatives. There are more female photographers, graphic designers, strategists, account managers and directors, art directors etc… it’s beautiful to see
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?
We have BEE for the emancipation of Black People… we need the same for Women! The transformation agenda is one that is spoken of but not prioritized when it comes to women. We need as aggressive an approach to the economic empowerment of women as have to that of Black people.
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 have no choice but to be inclusive of ALL races and genders as far as the growth of our economy is concerned. It is no longer a choice but an obligation. Those who choose to ignore it and fail to plan for an inclusive economy may as well plan to fail in growing it.
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?
I find South Africa’s bigger problem to be consequence management. We are well aware of the Government’s inability to decrease the rate at which the abuse the vulnerable is growing, however, what’s even worse than our inability to curb it is how we punish those who are perpetrators. There are various stakeholders required to form an active response unit to this crisis, some of them being policymakers, the various law enforcement agencies, but most importantly, civil society. The action begins at home. We need to take action against the people we know to be perpetrators…but we also need to for safe environments for rehabilitation and reform.
What does women’s month mean to you and what would you like to be done to push or commemorate this month?
It’s just a month in the year where the voices of women are amplified a little bit louder than usual. I wouldn’t say we see huge improvements in the issues related to women as a result of there being something called “women’s month” but it does help to have a spotlight shone on various women and the issues related to us. It’s also a good time to reflect on our women ancestors who bravely fought for our rights as women and this month’s commemoration being as a result of their bravery. I would like to see more deliberate and targeted campaigns around this time.
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?
I’m extremely fortunate to come from a home that embraced female emancipation. My mother holds a Masters in Sociology and wrote her thesis on the political mobilisation of South African Women in Exile. This was done with contributions from my Dad. So, if you can imagine it, my mom and dad were all about the amplification of the experiences of women in otherwise male-dominated spaces to open up dialogue on the realities of women in relation to men. With that said, I was socialised in a family that promoted a sense of equality whilst acknowledging gender roles apportioned to us by society. So with that background and support system, I’ve been able to navigate this modern world whilst having a firm understanding of the guides of my culture and traditions.
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?
There are people who look and feel like us in positions of power now. Be unapologetic about networking your way to the top knowing that. Women must stand together. Women first.
The imposter syndrome is something a lot of women confess to suffering 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?
It can tend to feel abnormal finding yourself in situations or positions that were previously off-limits to you. When you achieve something, no matter how small or how big, you have to own it. It is your obligation to the universe to be grateful for the opportunity and show that gratitude by acknowledging your participation in whatever that awesomeness is coming to life.
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?
We only have one life to live. There are no do-overs…so if ever you have to choose between you and something else, remember that you are alone in your ID photo. I take care of myself and I do it unapologetically. I take trips overseas, I buy that perfume I like and I get my hair and nails done. I do it all within my means whilst making sure that my future is financially sound. The saying that “you can’t pour from an empty cup” rings true and I take that very seriously.