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Hilda Mally Mokoena, MMC of Corporate and Shared Services in the City of Johannesburg, grew up in Munsieville and Kagiso, both locations are in the municipality of Mogale City. But it was not always like that, as Mokoena still remembers the pain of the forced removals of the 80s. Black people were forcibly removed, houses were demolished and in her case bonds of friendships of many years were broken.

Her parents’ house was demolished, “my mother had a beautiful house in Munsieville,” despite being a domestic worker and her father being a labourer (as they were called during the Apartheid era) recollected. Her parents were poor and therefore had to collect the bricks of the demolished houses to rebuild a new house in Kagiso.

As a domestic worker her mother called the white children “klein baas” and “Klein miesies” whichwas a serious challenge for her and this Mokoena believes is what may have firmed her resolved to be an activist against the Apartheid system. It was the humiliation that her mother especially experienced as a black woman which drove her to always try her best and pursue education further during the Apartheid era and made her strong in enduring her imprisonment at the Fort’s Number Four Women’s Jail.

Unemployment, poverty and inequality still negatively impact women in South Africa today and these challenges are deeply rooted because of Apartheid brutality and discriminatory policies. However, the ANC government has made great strides in changing South African women’s lives. Laws addressing inequality such as the Employment Equity Act and the inclusion of laws prioritising women’s participation in all facets of society have moved our society forward. Today more women have access to resources and high positions in society because fighting gender discrimination is one of the central objectives of government.

Although there are laws and socio-economic support mechanisms aimed at advancing women and reducing the impact of unemployment, poverty and inequality, there remain challenges such as the prevalence of teenage pregnancies, girl children being orphans, being heads of households and in some cases perhaps being forced to opt out of the education system because of added responsibilities. This scourge is a challenge as it creates obstacles for the progress of advancing women out of the undesirable oppressive trinity.

The City of Joburg, has many diverse projects as it has many departments, municipal entities and Regions. The Department of Corporate and Shared Services releases internships, learnerships and bursaries in order to advance the improvement of the residents of Joburg. These opportunities are geared at the previously disadvantaged and prioritise addressing gender inequality.

During the 2011/2012 financial year the City disbursed 100 bursaries totalling R1, 500, 000; 120 learnership totalling R6,048,820 and 395 internship at a total cost of R11,508,440. The information about the 2012/2013 learnerships, bursaries and internships will be released during the course of this year.

South Africa’s democracy must never be taken for granted because “if we do, we will be in trouble,” as the defeat of Apartheid was the best thing to have ever happened to the country, said Mokoena.

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Profile: Hilda Mokoena