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GLAMOUR Women in Charge: Meet Olwethu Leshabane

Meet award-winning media entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Art of Superwoman Olwethu Leshabane as she shares around what #Women’sMonth means to her

GLAMOUR: What does Women's Month mean to you?

OLWETHU LESHABANE: Women’s Month is a month of reflection for me. Almost like a womanhood New Year as a South African. I ask myself and those around me: What changes, shifts and liberations were?

GLAMOUR: Why is it important to celebrate the women of South Africa and why do you feel we need a special month to honour women?

OL: Celebrating the women of South Africa is important for many reasons.

Firstly, we need to acknowledge and honour the significance of the contributions we have made as women to this country's history, culture, and society. We must recognise the achievements of women in empowerment and gender equality.

Secondly, in celebrating ourselves, we remind ourselves of the ongoing struggles we face and the progress that we have yet to make in achieving gender parity in all spaces.

By highlighting our stories and challenges, we can all work towards addressing issues like gender-based violence and discrimination that women face daily.

Honouring our women helps us inspire future generations of girls and women to pursue their dreams and break barriers no matter what we are posed against. It is through women who were celebrated and put on platforms that I am where I am, they walked so I could run. It sends a message that they can achieve greatness in any field they choose.

GLAMOUR: Who is the most influential woman you know?

OL: My mother and my late grandmother are such a huge influence in my life. I am so much more like them as I grow older and wiser – I have come to appreciate and honour their role and influence in my upbringing and life.

GLAMOUR: What are some of the biggest challenges that women face today?

OL: There are so many, but I’ll choose to focus on 10:

- The gender pay gap: Women often earn less than their male counterparts for doing the same work, leading to economic disparities and financial insecurity.

- Lack of representation: Women are underrepresented in leadership roles, politics, and certain industries, impeding their ability to influence decision-making processes.

- Gender stereotypes: Stereotypical expectations and norms can limit women's opportunities and perpetuate inequality.

- Access to education: In some regions, girls still face barriers to accessing quality education, which impacts their long-term opportunities and economic empowerment.

- Reproductive rights and healthcare: Issues related to reproductive rights, access to healthcare, and maternal mortality continue to be significant challenges in many parts of the world.

- Work-life balance: Balancing work and family responsibilities can be particularly challenging for women, leading to issues such as "the motherhood penalty."

- Lack of representation in media: The media often perpetuates stereotypes and underrepresents women, impacting how they are perceived and their role models.

- Cultural and societal norms: Deep-rooted cultural norms and practices can limit women's autonomy and opportunities, reinforcing gender inequality.

GLAMOUR: Which achievement made by feminists are you most thankful for? Why?

OL: I would take up at least a 10-page spread getting into this, but I’ll emphasise a few:

1. women's suffrage: Feminist activists fought for and won the right to vote for women in many countries, empowering women to participate in democratic processes – this is a major one and I hope we honour these women by heading to the polls in numbers as women next year.

2. Reproductive rights: Feminists have campaigned for access to birth control, reproductive health services, and the right to make decisions about our bodies, leading to advancements in reproductive rights and healthcare.

3. Gender equality laws: Feminists have played a crucial role in advocating for laws and policies that promote gender equality, including anti-discrimination laws in education, employment as well as public services.

4. Women in the workplace: Feminists have campaigned for workplace rights and opportunities, leading to greater representation of women in various industries and higher-ranking positions – this includes for me the ability for women to be able to be mothers and career women.

6. What are some important contributions women have made to our world that are important to you? (This can be narrowed down to our industry)

Challenging gender stereotypes: women have worked to challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes, promoting more inclusive and diverse representations of women and men in media and society.

Women have made significant strides and contributions in the media industry, breaking barriers, and reshaping the landscape.

Some of these areas include representation and leadership: we have risen to leadership positions across various media platforms, including television networks, newspapers, magazines, and digital media companies. We have become CEOs, editors-in-chief, producers and directors as well as influencing content creation and decision-making.

GLAMOUR: What advice would you give your 18-year-old self about achieving your goals?

OL: You don’t have to have it all figured out now, life will unfold, and your needs will be met at every unfolding. You have all you need for the moment you are in now.

GLAMOUR: What’s your message to women in business?

OL: It can be tough, but we are amazing at running organisations. Don’t ever doubt your ability. Embrace digital media and technology, don’t shy away from it.

GLAMOUR: How are you celebrating Women’s Month?

OL: By being, reflecting and showing that we are already fully equipped, ready, and able as women. We, Art of Superwoman, hosted an all-women’s produced, performed, and curated event we hosted at Nirox Sculpture Park in partnership with Isuzu that was a massive success. We are also doing a complete takeover of the Usurpa Digital Art Gallery with After Paradise which will be running for the entire month of August. Pop in on the 9th of August and the 19th of August for amazing walkabouts, panel discussions, amazing connecting, eats and refreshments.

GLAMOUR: Your favourite beauty moment OR the best advice you’ve received to date and from who?

OL: My mom always advised me not to sleep with the day on my face. I never sleep without doing my full skincare routine every evening. And drink at least 2L of water a day.

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