From tech to medicine, the women of Mzansi have shown resilience while making contributions to the development and unity of the world.
Celebrated annually on 9 August, Women’s Day is a time when we empower, honour and celebrate the beauty and strength of South African women. It is also a time to look at advances made in different sectors to ensure diversity and better representation of women. This includes sectors like the tech industry, where a 2020 study by Women in Tech ZA reveals that only 23% of tech jobs are held by women in South Africa – highlighting persisting gender gaps.
From tech to medicine, the women of Mzansi have shown resilience while making contributions to the development and unity of the world. Such contributions cannot be denied when it comes to the tech world, as the globe’s short-form video destination, TikTok, attributes its advancements and growth to women who make up a large amount of the company’s staff in SA.
True to the platform’s mission, the women behind TikTok in the country have bossed up to bring joy to their professional roles, as well as in their personal capacities – where they creatively express who they are in their own ways.
As we remember the efforts of the women in 1956 today, we also want to highlight some of the most inspirational and powerful women behind TikTok:
Coming from Durban, Nolwazi is a Strategic Partnerships Lead for Sub-Saharan Africa at TikTok. A day in her work life includes identifying potential partners and developing strategies around pathways to partnership aligned to product needs across different portfolios.
Wearing many hats, Nolwazi is known to the South African public as a producer and award-winning actress who has starred in many popular TV programs and soaps. True to her diverse nature, she has also taken up the role of casting director. Her accolades do not end here, she is also a trained singer and dancer who knows her way around the kitchen. She is also in the fashion space, owning a clothing label called ‘Black Fashion House’.
For Nolwazi, Women’s Day shines a light on the progress women have made throughout history and their desires for the future. She sees the day as a reminder to unapologetically celebrate women’s achievements, vulnerability, and uniqueness – a united proclamation that women are enough.
From an early age, Felicity discovered her love for performing arts with a special interest in music. It comes as no surprise that she would be TikTok’s Content Operations Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa. As a Wits Music graduate, Felicity’s content experience ranges from compiling music and on-air presenting to content production.
At TikTok, her responsibilities lie with programming strategies, tracking content trends and understanding the trend maker’s landscape to be able to deliver fresh and relevant trends locally. She then uses some of these trends for day-to-day editorial operations. The excitement of introducing something new, fun and thought-provoking has kept Felicity within the entertainment space.
Boniswa is the Head of Content Programming and spokesperson at TikTok Africa, since joining in 2018 she has spearheaded strategic partnerships; Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) partnerships, music label collaborations and brand partnerships in Sub Saharan Africa. She initiated successful content and creator acquisitions during her time on the creator operations team, as well partnerships with musicians, celebrities, influencers, media platforms and NGOs in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
Outside of TikTok, Boniswa is a DJ and runs a music collective. With experience in digital media and a passion for music, Boniswa has connected musicians and producers from South Africa, New York and other parts of the world.
Burning with creativity and hard work, Boniswa shares that working specifically in tech means that she is learning new things every day. “I am given opportunities to be an innovator and a problem solver. I also have the opportunity to be part of a global network of people that impact billions of people across the globe positively each and every day I come to work.”
Carla is Content Partnerships Manager at TikTok for Sub-Saharan Africa where she works with media, sports, and entertainment brands to build content partnerships and help them grow organically on the platform. These partnerships allow her to strategically build and grow partners while training and guiding them and local creators on TikTok’s Best Practices and more.
Her love for content creation and media started with her career as a professional actress, where she not only performed but also toured the continent teaching kids about evolution using physical theatre. Her creativity was sparked even more when she joined a local broadcasting company where she started working with creators and media.
She loves looking for ways to build shared communities and shared economies through content creation, which has led her to start her own podcast and Twitch stream for an all-female group. Believing that it is important to come together to make a difference, Women’s Day is more than a day of celebration to Carla but a day of it’s a day of remembrance of the group of phenomenal women before us, and a reminder that women are powerful beyond measure.
Coming in with previous experience in minor online child safety and heading Trust and Safety for another popular tech company, Thabiso found her seat where she manages TikTok’s safety as a Safety Operations Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Her work in the online space started when social media was booming in South Africa. She helped companies to transition from print into the digital space which included marketing content online and ways to monetise from native advertising campaigns. She has also taught university students and journalists following her work in media.
As an award-winning digital content creator and journalist, Thabiso’s love for content creation is evident in her #1000limpoposecrets project where she documents the beauty and shows the hidden gems of her home province Limpopo. Coming from rural South Africa and now working in Tech for a global giant, has shown her that the possibilities are endless. Thabiso adds that there is nothing women can’t do and there’s no room that women can’t earn a seat in – no matter where they started.