Printing SA hosted its annual Women In Print Luncheon on Thursday, 3 August 2023, for its Central and Northern Chambers. The event featured keynote speakers, panel discussions and a fashion show, and brought women in print together to uplift, empower and celebrate their role in the printing industry. Sign Africa, Africa Print and Modern Marketing are proud media partners of the event.
The event provided community, leisure and a chance to connect with other women in print at a beautifully decorated conference venue in Midrand, Johannesburg. It also served as a launch pad for the guest speakers and panellists to motivate and mentor the women who attended. The event led to discussions around sisterhood, the issue of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and living and leading with purpose.
Sylvia Tsunke, Skills planning research and reporting manager from the FP&M Seta, gave a moving keynote address on GBV and what government and communities can do. Guest speaker, Alinah Fosi, CEO of Government Print Works, gave useful tips for success and peace of mind for women looking to rise and grow in the printing industry. Fosi’s one liners packed as much punch as her overall message, and she made statements such as: ‘Surround yourself with good company’, ‘Pick your battles, not all of them are worth fighting’, ‘It’s important to be assertive without being aggressive…disagree with the viewpoint without disrespecting theirs’, and ‘Never argue with a fool, people won’t see the difference’.
The first panel discussion was themed around the idea ‘She is my sister,’ and dealt predominantly with issues surrounding GBV. The panel was moderated by Sonwabile Ndamase, Founder and CEO of Vukani Fashions and SAFDA. Panel members included Dr. Criselda Kananda, 3sixty Global Solutions Group; Bulela Dumzela, Asante; and Raesetja Legodi, Gauteng Dept of Economic Development.
The panellists discussed the fact that everyone has the responsibility to speak out against GBV, to ensure that women and children are safe. Dumzela said, ‘Women often get into and then stay in these (abusive) sorts of relationships for a reason, whether it’s financial reasons or dependency. The only way we can help these women is through love.’
Legodi spoke about the need for eduction and communication surrounding protection, perception and safety when it comes to sexual activity among the youth. Speaking on a personal matter that had recently occurred with her son, Legodi stated, ‘This situation opened the door to speak about topics that we usually would not talk about in our house. We are now providing condoms in school bathrooms, but are they really using them?’
The second panel discussion was chaired by Abisha Katerere from Printing SA and Charnia Yapp, publisher of Sign Africa, and focused on living and leading with purpose. The panel was made up of inspiring women who have shattered their own glass ceilings, including: Thuli Zulu, Crea8international; Colleen Zimmerman, Renform; Aziza Mahomed, Kemtek; Arethur Molefe, Canon; Heidi-Mari Middel, Kyocera; and Anja Kirton, Fujifilm.
On mentorship and support being crucial for career growth, panellists were asked if they have had any mentors who significantly influenced their career. Kirton said there are many people that she looks up to including her boss, Grant Potgieter. ‘His advice is to try be 1% better every day, that is a significant 365% better in a year.’ Middel said, ‘I was very fortunate, because there were one or two men and one or two ladies all with different views and ways of approaching business. For me, it is important to be humble, be quick to listen and slow to react and speak. Sometimes when you do get feedback from that mentor, decide what will work for you and what is in line with your personality and work ethics.’ Molefe draws support and learns from her Mom, grandmother, friends and colleagues. ‘I really do take from everyone and I can’t forget my MD, who almost forced me to take this position.’ Molefe credited him as well as ‘being surrounded by a group of friends who are smart and beautiful’.
Another question asked was: How do you handle personal setbacks and turn them into opportunities? Mahomed said, ‘You need to look for those opportunities. You need to be focused and make sure that you are getting support. Don’t take a setback as the end of your career – you need to pick up the pieces. They say it’s a glass ceiling. Don’t look at your glass ceiling, because if you break it, the glass will cut you. So rather see it as no ceiling, see it as an opportunity that you take on and that makes you better. It is so much better to empower everyone else and empower ourselves. There are going to be days where you feel like: why am I doing this? You need to have a goal and work towards it.’ Yapp said, ‘Every setback is an opportunity to learn, for you and your team, there is something to be improved on.’
How do you encourage a sense of respect and equality within in your teams in your organisations? Zimmerman said, ‘If we want to encourage a sense of respect and equality, we have to look at ourselves. It is so important as women that we hold each other up and support each other more. And my staff know from experience that (if there is) any kind of fighting at work, I call a meeting to resolve the issue. We need to start with respecting each other. We can’t get men to respect us if we can’t even respect ourselves and each other first and foremost. Own your authority ladies, we made it, we are sisters.’
There were over 200 members in attendance with more tuning in, including international participants, via the live stream. Join Printing SA for the next Women In Print Luncheon, taking place on the 17th of August at the Mount Edgecombe Country Club, Durban. Click here to register.