THE POWER BEHIND THE THRONE

A long-awaited and remarkable women empowerment programme (the Leadership Spousal Support Programme) was successfully launched in Mahikeng on 11 November 2016, followed by an interactive seminar

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The Leadership Spousal Support Programme (LSSP) is one of the community services investment responsibilities initiated by Mrs Kule Mahumapelo, as it has been her mission to make a difference in the lives of the community in which she lives. The event attracted women from different backgrounds with the aim of redefining the role they play in supporting their spouses who are occupying high profile leadership position.

“I am delighted by the tremendous and extremely encouraging feedback from the women who participated in the programme,” said Mrs Mahumapelo. “This is an indication that this type of empowerment programme was long overdue. Unexpectedly, there were men who attended and their feedback was also overwhelming.”

The event was graced by women of stature, among them Mrs Maphefo Mogoeng (wife of the Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng) and Mrs Yoliswa Sechwaro (the Speaker of Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality).

More than 250 women attended this profound and interactive event that took place over a two-day period. The opening ceremony took place in the form of a gala dinner, where the LSSP’s logo was unveiled and the organisation’s vision was outlined. Mr Lungile Dantjie, the former Member of the Provincial Legislature (and the husband of the Speaker of the same Legislature), took the ladies gathered by surprise when he mentioned that he supports the programme and that he encouraged spouses to continue to support their husbands or wives without reservations. He highlighted that a loving and supporting wife or husband brings out the best of their spouses’ abilities and capabilities and that he had witnessed it first-hand when he was once in a leadership position.

Mrs Mahumapelo set the tone during the seminar by sharing her journey and her role as a woman in a society and wife to a leader. She highlighted the fact that a woman’s character is tested by the challenges she encounters and how well has she managed to overcome and rise above such.

Mrs Mahumapelo appreciated the support of her husband, Supra Mahumapelo in encouraging her to pursue the spousal support programme. “I thank the Almighty God for having blessed me with such a wonderful husband,” she said.

She reminded women of the main objective of the LSSP, which is to “redefine the role spouses and partners of leaders play in society and to explore how they can support each other in their respective responsibilities”, including the theme which is to “be in control of your destiny”. All of these objectives can be achieved if women know and understand why these goals exist and what roles women can play as a spouse and a partner. She reminded women that, if they fail to support their spouses in all aspects of their relationship then they might also be failing their community as well as society in general.

She encouraged women to develop themselves, network and support one another as part of women empowerment. The seminar included an interactive session where woman made their input on how they were enlightened and inspired by the programme as well as the presentations that were made during the seminar.

The seminar commenced with a revival service aimed at preparing women spiritually and mentally. The women were empowered by the following speakers in ensuring that the objectives of the programme are achieved.

  • The Department of Intergovernmental Relations and Corporations shared an informative presentation on Protocol and Etiquette: “As the spouses of powerful leaders, other women are looking up to you as role-models and it is imperative to display good behavioural manners in your life.”
  • A psychologist empowered women around issues of mental health and emotional intelligence. She shared a thought-provoking presentation on how people should be aware of their capacities and in control of their emotions in order to handle the interpersonal relationships.
  • The programme director encouraged women to believe in themselves and inspired them to motivate themselves to rise to the new level of self-confidence and belief of their position.
  • The family relationship specialist stated the importance of strengthening relationships through trust and effective communication. She encouraged woman to remain in their positions as spouses and partners and to put all negative thoughts on the side.
  • Mrs Mahumapelo urged participants to go back to other women in their communities and society, particularly those in the rural communities, in order that they could impart knowledge, enlighten and empower them so that they can also play a meaningful role in the lives of their spouses and partners.

During the interviews that followed the seminar, Mrs Mogoeng mentioned that the programme was powerful and that most women do not understand their role.

“I did not get married to the Judge, he has remained to be my husband before the title. The title comes with responsibilities but I believe that, with preparation, by the time the title comes a wife can be in a better position to know how to conduct herself,” said Mrs Mogoeng.

The programme achieved the following outcomes for the women who attended:

  1. They enjoyed the opportunity to network with other women and experienced an incredible feeling of uniting with them.
  2. The women were empowered in terms of different aspects of their relationships.
  3. They gained a broader understanding and appreciation for the importance of spousal support and acknowledging their talents, as well as how best to utilise their talents.
  4. It brought hope to women who did not know how to tackle the similar challenges as discussed by the seminar.

Of great importance was the fact that the women who attended all agreed to spread the message as service ambassadors in their respective communities. There was also a commitment expressed to create structures to ensure the sustainability of the project.

During the proceedings, Mrs Mahumapelo acknowledged two young women who are playing a very important role in the society. “Neo Letlhogela is a young woman from Dryharts (a village in Taung) who has been suffering from HIV / Aids for 10 years and she is open about it. As the owner-operator of McDonald’s in Mahikeng, I have appointed her the HIV / Aids Ambassador of McDonald’s, said Mrs Mahumapelo.

“The reason I appointed her is because she is playing a very important role in ensuring that other young women who are suffering from such are helped in terms of recognising their health status. To me, that is a support that goes with leadership responsibilities.

3“The second young lady is Kentse Badirwang, who comes from Signalhill, a village in Mahikeng. She is a woman who has been abused since the age of 14 years and on a number of occasions she tried to commit suicide but there was a support that encouraged her to be strong and through her courage and commitment she became strong and eventually she even wrote a book about her experiences.”²

Kentse is now the ambassador of the 16 Days Activism drive.“I thought it would be very important to recognise these young women during the Leadership Spousal Support Programme so they can show other young woman that you can start to be a leader from a young age. You can even start tomorrow to be a leader,” said Mrs Mahumapelo.

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