Johannesburg –Pregs Govender: “I think that the ability of each of us is enriched by one another and the best collective comes when you have strength in each person who belongs to that group. It’s the idea of human dignity and the belief that humanity is inherent.”
On 19 October 2014 at 20h27 on SABC 3, the acclaimed series 21 ICONS South Africa will feature the twelfth icon of its second season: Pregs Govender, human rights and gender activist who is widely respected as an individual deeply committed to the development of South Africa as a fair and humane democracy.Her 30-year career has been devoted to women’s emancipation and equality andto the human rights ofthe poverty-strickenin our society.
21 ICONS is a showcase for the South African spirit; a tribute to the men and women who have helped to shape our country and, indeed, our world. The series is part of an annual project which features unique narrative portraits and short films by Adrian Steirn, one of the continent’s pre-eminent photographers and filmmakers.
On her selection as an icon Steirn comments, “Govender is an icon as she embodies an individual who makes it their personal crusade to stand by what is morally just and in the best interests of society. Govender is a brave woman who has triumphed in a political and social climate that once undermined South African Indian women and she continually fights against racism, the ills of capitalism, prejudice and gender inequality.”
Steirn’s portrait of Govender appears in the Sunday paper alongside the collectible poster.The beautiful portrait included in the project will be sold at a charity auction next year. Govender has nominated a charity of her choice to be the recipient of the funds.
In an intimate conversation with Steirn, Govender talks about how she was very aware of injustice, poverty and inequality from an early age. “I wanted to end poverty by the time I was 40 years old and I want to reach nirvana by the time I turn 60.” She believes there are many women, like herself, and young girls who innatelyunderstand that inequality is wrong and unjust, and that the perpetuation of gender stereotypes restricts our freedom to be fully human.
At the inception of South Africa’s democracy in 1994, she served as an African National Congress Member in the National Assembly where she convened the gender and economic group of the finance committee and chaired Parliament’s committee on women and is widely respected for her role in advancing gender responsive budgets. In Parliament’s 1994 debates she initiated the South Africa’s Women’s Budget and led the Women’s National Coalition, which mobilised two million women to influence the drafting of the Constitution. As Chair of Parliament’s Committee on Women, she ensured that most of its priorities aimed at advancing women’s rights and gender equality were enacted.
Govender resigned in 2002 and on leaving the ANC, Govender reflects thatthere was too much silence on the grave issues of HIV and AIDS and the party was losing the heart of what the ANC embodied.She was the only member of Parliament to register her opposition to the arms deal in the Budget vote, and after asserting that her party had to address the horrific impact of HIV/Aids on women and girls, she comments, “You need to recognise when you can no longer make a difference in the space you’re in and to find another space where you can do that, to continue to contribute.”
Govender believes that South Africa has a bright future ahead. “I think that there are many organisations and people in our country who are connecting all the dots.” She concludes, “Being South African to me means understanding our shared humanity as a part of the whole world.”
About 21 Icons South Africa
21 ICONS South Africa is an annual collection of photographs and short films of South Africans who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in their fields of endeavor. These men and women have been an inspiration through their extraordinary social contribution. It is not a definitive list and does not denote any ranking.
The short film-series documents the conversations between Steirn as the photographer and filmmaker and the icons. Each short film provides insight into both the subject and photographer’s creative approach to the portrait.
Season two of 21 ICONS South Africa is proudly sponsored by Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Momentum Asset Management, Nikon, Deloitte and the Department of Arts and Culture.
Season two debuted on Sunday 03 August continuing for another 20 weeks, one of 21 short films will be screened every Sunday on SABC 3 at 20h27.
On each of these Sundays, a poster of the icon’s portrait, taken by Adrian Steirn and his creative team, will be published in the City Press to form a memorable collection that everyone can own.
Media partners include SABC 3, City Press (Media 24), Provantage and Mxit.
21 Icons engages with the public through: Twitter: @21Icons Website: http://www.21icons.com Mobisite: www.21icons.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/21Icons Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/21ICONS/ iTunes App Store: http://tinyurl.com/lf3cfzm Google Play: http://tinyurl.com/ovtcy45