Antoinette Mthetwa is a Senior Educational, Project and Development Consultant with more than 25 years of experience in the education and civil society sectors including 20 years of practice in the areas of education and enterprise development, specifically through implementation of CSI windfarm projects.
Ms. Mthethwa was born into a Lutheran family and serves in ELCSA and as a member of the LUCSA Communion. She grew up in the Cape Orange Diocese of ELCSA, in the Moriah Circuit, Port Elizabeth North Parish and Gelvandale Congregation.
At the congregational level, she is chairperson of the Congregational Council and serves as the Parish Synod representative.
She represents the Moriah Circuit on the Cape Orange Diocesan Council, as the only lay voting female representative on the Council. At the 2018 Synod of the Cape Orange Diocese, she was elected as Deputy Chairperson of the Synod and Diocesan Council.
She also serves as a representative of Cape Orange Diocese on the ELCSA Church Council where she was elected to represent ELCSA at the LUCSA Assembly in 2019.
Please share your experience as a LUCSA Council Member and SCOFA Chairperson
It was not easy coming into the LUCSA council in 2019 as at the time I did not fully understand the operations of LUCSA. But being elected as the SCOFA chairperson, well, I had to sink or swim and make sure I learned the ropes very quickly. It was a great challenge then as LUCSA was experiencing a change in directorship and the finance officer position was vacant. I then served as part of the Search and Interview Committee that appointed the new Executive Director.
Because we live in a patriarchal world it was not easy for some church leaders to accept women in leadership. However, I believe that if a woman is elected or appointed into a specific position it should be on merit and not as part of a quota system (just to fill in the numbers). Therefore, I strongly believe that leading SCOFA for this term was an opportunity to show my capabilities.
The Communion, which includes donor partners, was eager to see the organization stabilizing and I now do believe that we are nearing that point. Being able or allowed to interact with staff and to be part of transferring knowledge and skills to members of the secretariat, was a great honor for me. I do thank the secretariat for allowing me the space to share my knowledge and skills.
What achievements are you proud of and why?
In 2019, the Cape Orange Diocese held its first All Women’s Rally. As one of the organizers of this event, we managed to bring together 200 women from the Western Cape, Eastern Cape Northern Cape, and Free State. This event was held in Bloemfontein from the 8th to the 11th of August. The main aim of this weekend was to enhance the role of women in church and society, looking at the barriers that we face as women, both in church leadership and society.
This event is now planned bi-annually, but due to Covid we could not meet physically in 2021. However, an online version of the event was held.
I would also say I am proud of the way God uses me as a female leader to empower others and also to be a voice for other women. Through challenging times in my life God has given me a renewed purpose, steering me into not only developing and capacitating myself but ensuring I develop, empower, and capacitate other women as well.
As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?
A barrier at times has been the way other women undermine your leadership as a female. Therefore, it is not only the patriarchal mindset of the world that we come across as a barrier, but at times, it’s the mindset of other women towards female leadership that can be a barrier to success. Some refer to a “pull-her-down syndrome,” that is detrimental to building the capacity for female leadership, and that slows down the path to leadership equity.
What is the most important change that should be made in your country?
Allow more female leaders to occupy key portfolios, as there is very little gender diversification in the leadership of the country. Ensure that even the female leaders have a great sense of moral regeneration, so we can become a society that lives for each other.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Be yourself, in all situations and all spheres in life. Find your God-given purpose in life and ensure that everything you do on a personal and professional level speaks to this purpose. Not all battles are meant for you, some you must pass by silently.
What are you most passionate about?
My greatest passion is community development and making sure I build a positive mindset in everyone I interact with or that crosses my path.
What is your motto in life?
Be an agent of change.
What would you do if you didn’t achieve your current goal?
I would surely still be a teacher, as that was my first profession, and that ignited the passion of developing the mindset of others.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman means having a strong sense of identity, accepting yourself as one that adapts and changes over time, being confident, and building up the people in your life. It means you have the wisdom to be grateful for what you have, while still being hungry enough for growth
Why do you think organizations would benefit from having more women within the top structures of governance?
Gender diversity is always a plus point for every organization and it brings about an increase in productivity. Having more female leaders is important because female leaders change the perceived conception about who can lead and what qualities are necessary in a leadership position. Having more female leaders in an organization brings about a different perspective and establishes a diverse thought-process in innovation and decision making.