A Women’s Day Gala Dinner to be held on 2 August 2007 celebrates the vital role played by South African women, while giving back to the community in support of counselling, education and the arts. 

The event will take place in the Aquanaut room at Turffontein Race Course and promises to provide an evening of sparkling entertainment to celebrate women in South Africa. Proceeds will support the work of three inspiring initiatives that lay the foundations and provide the tools we need to eradicate and heal the abuse that women and children continue to experience in this country.
Guests will join Open Disclosure patron Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement, for an evening of fine dining, dance, theatre, comedy, poetry and jazz.
Guest artists include Tamara Day and the dancers of the Jozi Dance Company, jazz vocalist Helenne Ulster and her three-piece ensemble; drag artist Neil Holland (aka Holly Diamond) of the former Tuck Shop Girls, and poet Maakomele Manaka.
Maria Ramos, Group CE of Transnet and patron of ODF since 2002, will not be able to enjoy the evening due to previous work commitments. However, she sends us words of encouragement and faith.
Organiser Stella Helwick of S H Connect says: “Women in South Africa have made great strides in all fields, yet much remains to be done. In 2007, we wish to acknowledge women who are survivors of abuse and all those who actively support the cause of women and children in this country for the progress they have, and continue to make.”
The dinner will raise awareness and support for three initiatives that are making a direct contribution in the fields of counselling, education and the arts. They are the Open Disclosure Foundation, United Church Schools and the Jozi Dance Company.
The Open Disclosure Foundation, established in 2002, assists victims of sexual abuse through one-on-one counselling and is headed by Yfm presenter and kwaito singer Andile Carelse.
The United Church School, established in 1990 by Christia Rossouw and Helenne Ulster, also a jazz vocalist and Radio Today presenter, provides Grade 1-12 schooling for 750 orphaned, abused, HIV, abandoned and underprivileged children in the heart of Yeoville from three private dwellings and a church hall.
The Jozi Dance Company is a new multi-disciplinary dance company started by renowned choreographer and ex -State Theatre Dance Company director Esther Nasser in mid-2006.
Both Ramos and Holomisa are outspoken in their support of the women of South Africa.
Says Ramos: “Being part of our country’s democratic future is a privilege that I cherish but there is still much to be done eradicate poverty and inequality. There is no room for complacency.
”Women make up more than 50% of the South African population and play a critical role in shaping policy and the economy. It takes resilience and courage to bring up children, make a living, maintain communities and balance the roles mother, wife, worker and leader in difficult circumstances. Nor has it become any easier for women in business to gain recognition and progress into management.
“The main instrument for overcoming these challenges is you. It is a tough world out there and women should not hesitate to take their place in it. We need to believe in ourselves first, not accept mediocrity and not be satisfied with less than what we think we are worth.”
Says Holomisa: “Empowerment in South Africa has focused on economic and political transformation. Social transformation, however, seems to have been neglected. We have to challenge the values that underpin the old culture of abuse and exploitation. We cannot rely on the law alone. Respecting and protecting women and children requires a paradigm shift in culture. Education and awareness is the key to change. When the workplace, the streets and the schools are havens of safety and dignity, then the message must eventually permeate into every household.
“The statistics on the physical and sexual abuse of women and children are overwhelming, yet they unintentionally trivialise the individual experience – the suffering and the courage behind each of those numbers. There is one thing the transition to democracy has taught us: the rights you win today can be eroded tomorrow. The pursuit of rights and the battle for freedom must thus be continuous.”
Helwick adds: “With gentle persistence water will in time wear down the hardest, most impermeable barrier – or find a way around it. Each decision you and I take with regard to supporting women in our society and changing the way they are perceived and treated is one step forward. Progress is inevitable where respect, love and care are daily translated into positive action.”
Nasser, who has put together the evening’s entertainment, agrees: “The current attitude toward women in society and the economy needs to go beyond mere thoughts, concepts and expostulations of shock, horror and ‘they should’ –type expressions. Women need to act on their ideas and beliefs. It is only through ‘doing’ that things progress, change, move forward.
“The entertainment line-up for this Women’s Day Gala Dinner has been designed to ensure you laugh, are inspired and dazzled. Come and get a new perspective on women – it’s an opportunity to make a difference."
Tickets will cost R800.00 per person or R8000.00 per table.
To book, contact Stella Helwick at stella.helwick@shconnect.co.za