The Greater Kokstad Municipality continues to strengthen programmes of putting women first.

This was further made evident when the Municipality held a women's commission workshop last month.

The workshop was an intimate, powerful and insightful session, which zoomed into all challenges faced by women and proceeded to seek methods of delving into each of the challenges to ensure that they deal with them head-on.

The commission comprises women in leadership within the Greater Kokstad Municipality and different key sector departments participated in the commission and presented their inputs.

The woman at the forefront of the session, Esethu Nkaule, the Municipality's gender officer explained the reasons for the event. She said it was to perform a capacity-building workshop for the women's commission.

Speaking during the event, Nkaule said: "attendees are expected to impart knowledge specifically to empower women in leadership on matters that they face collectively daily".

The event was graced by the Municipality's Deputy Mayor, Councillor Karen Walker; Cllr Zodidi Tshazi who is the Chairperson of the Women's Commission, the GKM Communications and Inter-Government Relations, Mrs N Matshoba. Also in attendance were Dr N Mxhalisa, Miss Mhlongo and Miss Madlala from the Department of Social Development, Ms Gonxeka from Old Mutual, Ms L Ntoa – a seasoned Motivational speaker who is also an entrepreneur and a pharmacist who owns several pharmacies in Kokstad.

Nkaule appreciated the attendance of high-profile people in the municipal area. "This is a sign of appreciating women's existence, inputs and their challenges," said Nkaule.

The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Walker did not waste time in addressing gender inequality citing that men are always put first, either in positions or in almost everything making them powerful and in control. While urging women to stand tall against the adversities they face because they are tantamount to "slavery" as men will always compel most women to submit to them.

"Women must take back their voice and space wherever they are," said the Deputy Mayor.

Speaking about Gender-Based Violence (GBV), the Deputy Mayor defined it as a harmful act committed against any person or group based on their gender.

Meanwhile, the representatives from the Department of Social Development stressed that GBV happens to everyone, but is more prominent among women and children, which is why every year South Africa and the rest of the world promotes 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children Abuse which is a campaign that intensely pushes the support to end harmful and criminal activities against women and children.

Ms Mhlongo from the Department of Social Development said: "The abuse can be emotional, physical, financial or psychological, while her colleague Dr Mxhalisa cautioned women to look after their health, as most have become victims of various diseases due to family dynamics and the challenges they have to overcome, including GBV.

She revealed that most people dying in hospitals are women, with heart-related diseases. "Another disease ravaging women is cancer and I urge all women not to ignore any signs no matter how small or unimportant it looks but people must consult doctors and undergo regular check-ups," added Dr Mxhalisa.

Another important challenge, which dominated the event was the physical abuse that women endure in marriages which ultimately creates broken communities as this automatically infiltrates a wrong belief and mindset in children, that it is correct to abuse women.

Women are advised not to try to tolerate any acts of GBV, no matter what the circumstances are because it would become a norm in the family and negatively affects the upbringing of children.