Full Name: Samantha Nobulele Ngcolomba
Occupation: Lawyer and Business Woman
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
The fight for women’s rights and equality is a continuing one across all of the world. Woman everywhere are no longer waiting for their rights to be afforded to them or for their battles to be fought on behalf of them.
Women today, are leaders in their own right creating spaces with their resources to help other women have access to justice. Such many woman include, our woman of the month, Samantha Ngcolomba.
What an incredible journey she has propelled for herself and her organization, Lady Liberty SA.
In South Africa, due to the many injustices of the past Lady Liberty is able to position itself as a tool for women,who as a result are underprivileged and without access to law. An organization such as this one, exists has a necessary step in society that assures that there’s room for all to play a role in achieving social cohesion.
Today, we speak to Sam about her story, challenges and strides in being a woman in law, in business and in South Africa.
Tell us more about yourself. (Background, age, what do you do now?) 35 year old woman, wife, soon to be mommie and Attorney, admitted to practice law in Zimbabwe and South African. Currently consulting in Social Entrepreneurship, Corporate Social Investment, Enterprise Supplier Development and Women’s Rights.
2. How did you go about deciding to pursue a career in law? I simply hate injustice and after not being able to afford to get my pilot’s license, I decided to pursue law (as my second best option) in order to fight for those unable to fight for themselves.
3. How did you come up with the idea to start your business, Lady Liberty SA? I see the law as a tool to enable a person to fight for their rights, so Lady Liberty SA serves to arm people with this tool. After realising how margenalised women continue to live in abject poverty and abuse, I decided to ‘take the law to them’ – teaching them about their rights and responsibilities and how to use the law to protect themselves against daily family challenges such as marriage, divorce, children’s rights and domestic violence.
4. What’s the long term goal with regards to what you’d like for your organization to achieve? To reach as many women as possible across South Africa first and then in other African countries, equipping them with basic legal information and services. The current mission is to use technology to increase our reach and impact and we’ll be launching our platform soon.
5. What are some of the challenges of being a lawyer and a business owner? There are several: being black and female has its own challenges, before I even delve into those of the legal field and business world. But I guess the main challenges are a lack of cohesion in the legal system, non-punitive measures for non-contribution of pro bono hours as well as political and economic challenges that limit access to resource; particularly if you’re young, black and female.
6. What would you say have been some of the challenges with getting Lady Liberty off the ground, and up & running? Depleting and sacrificing my family’s finances, staying motivated and continuing to believe in the legal profession and people in general! Of course obtaining funding has been nearly impossible too and we have received most financial support from international organistions such as HiiL Innovating Justice (The Hague).
7. Women are met with different challenges in South Africa, across business, political and even the legal industries. What would you say have been some of the barriers women in this country experience? I think one of the greatest barriers that goes undetected for mostly African women in this country is the impact of cultural beliefs, norms and practices! Most women who believe and are bound by African culture (defined and practiced respectively within their different tribes) are psychologically bound by them. For instance, the law can only assist a woman protect herself against an abuser, but it cannot make her believe she doesn’t deserve to be abused for not being a ‘good wife’ according to what their culture says. This psychological barrier coupled with poverty and a lack of access to basics such as education, shelter, food and healthcare then keep women continuously dependent on [mostly] their male counterparts who then abuse them financially, emotionally, psychologically and physically.
8. What does being a woman In South Africa mean to you? I think at the moment, for me, it is a very burdensome responsibility that means I have to make a difference for women now and the coming generations; in one way or the other. While I hope and believe that Lady Liberty SA is doing a little bit of that, I’m not certain it’s enough …
9. What personal traits would you say set you apart as a woman working in law and working in community building? My easy-going personality, respect for all people, humour and wit. Also I have a sincere love for people; which at the moment though, is marred by my declining belief in them. But my belief in God and living a purpose filled life often resolves this daily struggle for me.
10. Kindly provide both personal and professional social media contacts. @LadyLiberty_SA, Facebook: ‘Lady Liberty SA’
In closing, and words of wisdom you’d like to share to spread positivity and encouragement to young women in law, business and South Africa as a whole? “You don’t have to do life alone, but be prepared.
PHOTO: Red Bull Amaphiko