As much as we have made great strides in equality, we are still miles away from where we should be in many industries. That is the take of South African chef and entrepreneur, Mogau Seshoene, who has been chosen by Facebook to take part in a global live discussion in celebration of International Women's Day on Wednesday.
The Facebook Africa Event will see 30-minute live discussions take place across the world in honour of International Women's Day.
Seshoene, who had no entrepreneurial experience when she started out, left her job in the finance sector to pursue her passion, cooking. She has since turned her company, The Lazy Makoti, into a successful brand that has found itself in homes all over South Africa.
She is a great example of how women continue to excel in the various positions they find themselves in.
She answers a few questions for us that reveal why she is a culinary mbokodo.
Q: What has led you to this (cooking) passion you have for serving women and girls?
A: Growing up I've always had a passion for food and cooking, something I got from my mom and grandmother. That has always been how we bonded. I believe that is the case for most women.
However what speaks to that passion is a project we will launch soon with township mamas to give cooking lessons in traditional South African cuisine, which they are "experts" on. This is food they prepare daily. This would be a way to include our mothers who are often breadwinners, in our economy, a way for them to use skills they already have to earn an income.
Q: How do you use your time and resources as a means of uplifting not only your generation, but those before you and those after you?
A: By incorporating township mamas who often have little education but the skill of authentic home cooking to earn a income as a means to feed their families.
Q: Coming from a finance background, did the under-representation of women at entry level in the workforce concern you?
A: It most definitely did. As much as we have made great strides in equality, we are still miles away from where we should be.
Q: With regards to challenges in reaching gender equality, what are the barriers to progress that you found?
A: It saddened me to realise that even in the culinary industry, women are under-represented. It seems every industry is still male dominated. The entire culture of the "kitchen" in industry is not too women-friendly. Challenges also include the insane hours you have to put in as a chef. Sometimes you only knock off at 9pm having been there since 6am. The work-life balance becomes a great challenge, more so if you have a family.
Q: What powerful lesson have all these years of focus taught you?
A: A few things:
- No one is waiting to give you your dreams. You truly have to work for them.
- Know when and how to ask for help. There is no need to make mistakes that you could have avoided, had you just asked for help.
- Take care of yourself! You can't pour from an empty cup. Take time out to just selfishly take care of you.
For those who want to join in or follow the event, the campaign is called #SheMeansBusiness and will feature live videos from more than 90 cities around the world featuring inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs.
The live video will run on the Impact Hub Johannesburg Facebook page, starting at 12.50 p.m. and leading right into the panel which will start at 1 p.m.
South Africa celebrates Women's Day later in the year, on August 9, which marks the anniversary of the great women's march of 1956. Many women from different races, ages and positions in life mobilised and marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the carrying of pass books as required by the apartheid state. This event took place on August 9,1956 and saw about 20,000 women marching in protest against legislation aimed at tightening the apartheid government's control over the movement of black women in urban areas.
International Women's Day is also increasingly celebrated in South Africa, as part of a global celebration and a call for gender equality. It is a day for everyone to remember the great strides which have been taken by women across the globe and the role they have played in history.