Celebrating International Women's Day: The impact of African women and women in art

By Lindelwa Masuku

On this International Women's Day, we celebrate the achievements and contributions of women all around the world. We acknowledge the progress made in achieving gender equality while also recognising the work that still needs to be done. 

We want to highlight the remarkable accomplishments of African women and women in art who are creating a difference in how the world interacts with African art. One such woman is Nene Mahlangu, a visual artist whose work has captured the hearts and minds of many.

Nene Mahlangu is a young visual artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa, who uses her art to celebrate the beauty, divinity, and blessings of being a woman. Her work often features figurative drawings and paintings that tell stories of vulnerability, healing, confidence, wholeness, and transcendent power. 

Visual artist Nene Mahlangu, Instagram post

Through her art, Mahlangu creates emotionally safe environments that serve as a positive escape, reminding herself and others of the authority and power of the female voice in the everyday world.

Mahlangu's work has been featured in several group exhibitions, including ECLIPSE in Paris with Undiscovered Canvas (2022), ART X LAGOS with Affinity Art Gallery (2022), ART the Hague Art Fair in Den Haag, Netherlands (2021), WomenInArts at the French Residence in Pretoria, South Africa (2021), and Venice International Art Fair in Italy (2020). 

In 2019, she made history by being the youngest woman to design two coins for South Africa, commemorating 25 years of democracy, and championing education and children's rights.

Visual artist Nene Mahlangu, Instagram post

Nene Mahlangu's art is an embodiment of the luxurious fusion of African identity, fashion, and moral themes. Her work invites viewers to indulge in a world of colour and refinement, showcasing her sensual and unique vision. 

Walking within Relief Acrylic on Canvas 2023

In one of her recent Instagram posts, Nene mentioned that every time a girl receives an award, it is not just a moment of personal achievement but a moment of collective celebration. It uplifts the community and reminds us of the limitless potential of our girls. 

Dancing with the Aloe I Acrylic on Canvas 2023

Nene's work is inspired by UN Women, which says that empowering African women economically reduces the effects of inequality, discrimination and increases the upliftment of a community.

As Nene's quote suggests, the celebration of women's accomplishments sends a powerful message to the world. We tell the world that our girls are not just bystanders, but active contributors to our society. 

May Comfort Find Me Acrylic on Canvas 2023

We tell the world that our girls are not just dreamers, but realities waiting to be unleashed. When we celebrate the accomplishments of our girls, we inspire other girls to dream big and reach for the stars. 

Together, we can create a world where every girl is celebrated and encouraged to reach her full potential.

However, there are still many challenges that women face globally. One of these challenges is appointing more female chief executives and chairs. According to a recent report, only 7.4% of Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs in 2020. 

This underrepresentation of women in top leadership positions is a problem that needs to be addressed. Companies can take steps to increase the number of women in leadership roles by establishing mentoring programs, providing equal opportunities for men and women, and promoting gender diversity.

Another challenge that women face is the lack of innovation and technology for gender equality. Women need equal access to education and technology to achieve gender equality. The rise of women in technology is essential for the creation of more innovative and gender-equal solutions. 

Companies need to provide more support to women who are interested in pursuing careers in technology, including providing equal pay and flexible work arrangements.

Creating a more equitable workplace is also important, particularly for women returning from maternity leave. This is an issue that Advocate Aurelia Nxumalo has addressed. 

Advocate Aurelia Nxumalo, Instagram post

In a recent Instagram post, she wrote that, "Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice heard." Companies can create a more equitable workplace by providing flexible work arrangements, offering parental leave, and promoting equal pay for women.

On this International Women's Day, we commemorate all women in the world. We celebrate their accomplishments and contributions while acknowledging the challenges they face. 

Let us work together to create a world where every woman is celebrated and encouraged to reach her full potential. As the great Maya Angelou once said, "Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women."

Happy International Women's Day to all our Joburg Post readers and all the women in the world owning their crowns. 

Article Tags

International Women's Day

Gender equality

African women and women in art

Nene Mahlangu

UN Women

Advocate Aurelia Nxumalo


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