On 9 August 1956, 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa to protest against legislation aimed at tightening the apartheid government's control over the movement of black women in urban areas. The first National Women's Day was celebrated in 1994, and a re-enactment of the march was staged for the 50th anniversary in 2006.
To celebrate Women's Day 2016, we asked five of USB-ED's own powerful and inspiring women to share what motivates them, the biggest life lessons learnt, advice to their younger selves, and their definitions of leadership.
Today we introduce our first inspirational woman, Brigitte Roediger, Marketing Director at USB-ED.
Who do you look up to that inspires you most?
I have never been a person to be inspired by only one individual. I think the inspiration changes as to what you are looking for in life at that time. I have previously drawn motivation from Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg and even Charlize Theron. Recently I read the autobiography of Shirley Zinn, called Swimming Upstream. The title of the book says it all. This is a woman who continues to live out her passion (talent development), keep a ‘magic spark’ through her actions, is happily married, and has a PhD from Harvard – despite her upbringing during Apartheid years and living in District Six.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learnt to date?
We all have goals, targets or life dreams that we hope for. The only thing that is going to stop you in life, is you. You can achieve anything if you put your mind, heart and soul into it. However, we can very easily conjure up excuses ranging from time, money, peer pressure and even current circumstances to shift blame as to why we haven’t done the things that we really want to accomplish.
If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Don’t compare yourself to others! I would have saved myself a lot of worry lines and wrinkles if I was rather in competition with myself than with others. Is she skinnier or cleverer than me? Does she have more friends than me? Geez, how naïve was I!
What does leadership mean to you?
I believe true leadership comes from those who lead with both their heads and their hearts, have both transactional and transformational skills, and both power and love. It is the combination of the two that makes us better people and therefore better leaders. To illustrate this, I have quoted the two paragraphs from Adam Kahane’s book Power and Love that phrases it perfectly:
“Our power is generative and amplifying when we realise ourselves while loving and uniting with others. Our power is degenerative and constraining – reckless and abusive – when we overlook or deny or cut off our love and unity.
Our love is generative when it empowers us and others: when it helps us, individually and collectively, to complete ourselves and grow. Our love is degenerative – sentimental and anaemic – when it lacks or denies or suffocates power.”
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
The one thing that I wish I could change in the world is access to good education. Yes, probably an occupational hazard answer but the only way that we can do things differently is if we know HOW to do it and WHY we need to do it.
What does true beauty mean to you?
There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person laugh from their stomach. There is something magical about a person being so comfortable in their own skin and just being happy!