Nothing is impossible when women unite

By Mama Busi Mnguni – FSA Executive Committee Chairperson

Mama Busi

who handed Adam the fruit in the garden of Eden and not the other way round? Women are by nature adaptable, innovative and nurturing. Just look at any mother of a toddler and you will see all three qualities shine strongly from within her. We are listeners, storytellers, visionaries and peacekeepers. We have a wealth of transferable skills, that when applied with courage, determination and vision can turn the impossible into the possible. So why is it that we women are our own worst enemy?

Why do women find it so easy to fall silent in the presence of men? Why are we so ready to choose the male candidate over the women volunteering for the role? And why are we so eager to shoot down other women trying to elevate themselves?

I have seen this happen time and time again. Bright, articulate and talented women have fallen silent in the presence of their husbands or male colleagues. I have witnessed the right candidate for a position being overlooked because of her gender, not by the men in the room but by the women. Perhaps most shameful of all, I have lost count of the number of times I have seen women be knocked from their podium and picked upon by other women who are simply jealous of their success.

It is time we addressed this. It is time women acknowledge that we can be our own worst enemies and biggest critics and it is time we start to rectify this by uniting. We need to unite behind one another, our shared causes and the need for a combined voice.

When I was asked to write a Women’s Month article from my perspective as Chairperson of Forestry South Africa’s Executive Committee, this was the message I wanted to send out to the women in our industry. To the female small-scale growers like me, the C-level female executives working for the corporate forestry companies, the medium-scale business women running their family farms, the countless female employees, contractors and of course female forestry students, I wanted to tell them, it is time to unite.

Rather than elevating ourselves at the expense of others, we need to start building a shared platform that elevates all women. We need to celebrate the successes of other women, as their wins are wins for every woman in the Sector. Indeed, successful women can be found across the forestry sector and its value chain. These are women who are leaders in their field, women that are aiding our industry address the challenges of today and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. We should elevate these women, so they can become role models for future generations.

Mam Busi additional photos

We must also become more aware of the plight of others, the women who are struggling. Those who cannot find the balance between work and home life. The women who, for whatever reason, have lost their confidence and their voice and the women who need our help. We are only ever as strong as our weakest link, and it therefore makes no sense at all to knock someone down further. We need to build them up.

This is why I am so proud to be part of the She is Forestry movement, an NPO, created with the support of FSA, to help empower women and celebrate the contribution women make to the industry we all love. Last year’s Women in Forestry webinar provided a platform for women in our industry to voice their ideas, have frank discussions and grow. It also raised R70 000 to support the most disadvantaged schools, providing matriculants with the equipment they need to succeed in their studies. As a Sector, it has enabled us to promote the positive contribution women are making across the forestry industry and its value chain. It is something we women should be very proud of.

I am excited for what the second half of my FSA Exco Chairpersonship has in store. I believe as women in the Sector we are heading in the right direction, we are uniting and we are beginning to use our collective voice to make real and tangible differences. As a Sector, we have come so far in terms of gender equality, it’s now time, we as women, took over the responsibility of ensuring every woman in our sector feels she has an opportunity to shine.

Meet Mama Busi Mnguni - FSA Executive Committee Chairperson

FSA Executive Committee Chairperson Mama Busi is a powerhouse. Passionate about forestry and gender equality, she is not afraid to use her voice and speak up for women’s issues and the industry she adores. For these reasons, she is a role model to both men, but especially women, across the Sector.