August is traditionally the time when we celebrate women in South Africa. We toast successful women, give young women a boost, focus on women’s health, and make a special effort to extend a helping hand to women in need.
In the ICT industry, the month is usually characterised by a series of lunches, dinners, cocktail parties and events that do all of these things, with a focus raising money and awareness of various worthy women- and girl-focused charities or NGOs.
However, this year, against tough economic headwinds, we saw a marked decline in the number and lavishness of these events, as companies and individuals alike held on to their hard-earned cash.
The real losers of this trend were the many marginalised or abused women who usually get some much-needed relief during Women’s Month.
So Channelwise launched its inaugural Women’s Day Challenge.
We asked women in the ICT industry to dig deep into their hearts, their wardrobes and their pockets to help us ensure that the charities we would all have supported at the various Women’s Day events would still get some benefit.
The annual A-Plus Women’s Day lunch, for example, could usually count on raising a substantial contribution for its chosen charity. The women who attend this particular event would also bring an item for that charity.
The charity that was chosen to benefit from this year’s event, had it been able to go ahead, is People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), which helps to shelter and empower abused women.
A huge challenge these women face once they start to turn their lives around is entering or re-entering the workforce – and a practical issue is the availability of work clothes.
For the Channelwise Women’s Day Challenge, asked women in the ICT industry to clear out their wardrobes of any unused items of work attire – blouses, skirts, pants, jackets, shoes, accessories; and to buy new underwear if possible.
Although it was the first challenge, and organised at short notice, a number of companies rose to the challenge: Mustek, Axiz, Drive Control, Itec, Kyocera, HPE, HP Inc, Ozone, EOH, Elingo, Puruma, Orange Ink and Future Wave Media.
Between them these amazing women collected a substantial pile of good-quality work clothes and a much-appreciated trove of new under-garments.
These contributions are so much more than just clothes: they represent hope and dignity for women working hard to reclaim their own lives, support themselves and their children, and make a meaningful contribution to society.
On behalf of POWA, and in the name of the women whose lives you have touched with your generosity, Channelwise extends a huge “Thank you” to all the women in the ICT industry. Ladies, you rock!