South Africa: Sezela Women’s Forum and Future Women Workers

By Nelisiwe Nxumalo, FAWU member in Sezela

The Sezela Women’s Forum comprises women employed in the Mill and Agriculture areas in the Sezela Sugar Company and represents them in the Equality Employment (EE) meetings. The Forum helps dealing with issues that women face at the workplace, and also organises functions and events, such as the Women’s Day and the Cultural Day. The Women’s Forum represents all women employees, independently of their union affiliation. The IUF-affiliated Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) is the majority union status at Sezela, with a membership of some 230 women.

The Sezela Women’s Forum usually holds a community event every second year on Women’s Day. On 7 August this year, the Forum visited the Sihle High School, the only high school in the vicinity. Most children attending the school come from disadvantaged families. Sezela is the only big company in the area but, whenever there are job openings, it is difficult to find local people applying, because they don’t meet the minimum requirements. Most students finish their Matric[1] but cannot pursue further studies. Sezela is trying to employ more local females, and it is a real challenge because they lack skills and qualifications for the positions.

Sezela Women's Forum. Photo by Nelisiwe Nxumalo.

Sezela Women’s Forum. Photo by Nelisiwe Nxumalo.


This year’s Women’s Day, the Forum met with Matric female students, because they are soon going to face the challenge of looking for a job. Most of them are between 17 and 20 years old. The Forum wanted to create awareness of the opportunities they have in the slowly changed male dominated careers and industries, such as Sezela (owned by Illovo Sugar) and others.

The IUF Sugar Program has initiated talks with FAWU to focus on issues of Equality in the sugar sector, including equality in the employment opportunities for women.


[1]The National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations, commonly known as “matric,”is the culmination of twelve years of formal schooling,  It is use as one of the key indexes of the state of health of the education system in South Africa.

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1 comment

    • Nelisiwe Nxumalo on August 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    In my home language there is a saying which says “the bull is in the calves” which simply means you groom future leaders while they are still young. These are some of the fruit from IUF global sugar programme! Solidarity forever!

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