Women in fire: “Women are the real architects of society” ~ Harriet Stowe
This month of August, we celebrate our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, partners and colleagues. Over the years, women have been proving that they are more than just being a household label; they have fought for their rights to be recognised as more than just objects but as human beings who possess skills and abilities. We, as the Easter Cape Umbrella Fire Protection Association (ECUFPA), are proud to have two newly appointed women in the association, a positive change and great addition to the family. Farha Ally, born and raised in the northern suburbs of Cape Town, holds a Bachelor of Technology in Conservation qualification from Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Ready to start a new challenge in her life, she moved to Hogsback with her three-year-old son in January 2020 to fulfil a dual function position as a manager for the Greater Stutterheim Fire Protection Association (GSFPA), base manager for the Working on Fire crew in Hogsback and project manager of the FireWise programme. Her passion for the outdoors has driven her career choices and kept her motivated as she navigated the working world. She has been in the conservation industry for about 12 years now. She has worked in both the public and private sector before pursuing her role at GSFPA. She previously received the GreenMatter Fellowship Award, a prestigious award aimed at developing human capacity for biodiversity conservation.
“My passion lies in connecting people and the environment that they live in. I enjoy taking on new challenges and moving to the rural Eastern Cape has been a great learning curve for me. Working in integrated fire management with different sectors and communities has been extremely rewarding and educational.” She sure does bring a new strategic approach on operations, tenacity and charisma.
Aneliseka Mangxila joined the Eastern Cape Umbrella Fire Protection Association (ECUFPA) as an intern through Groen Sebenza in March 2020. Originally from King William’s Town, she holds a National Diploma in Forestry qualification from Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and is doing part-time Bachelor of Technology in Forestry. Groen Sebenza is a programme funded by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), which is aimed at developing priority skills in the Natural Resource Management (NRM) sector to help create sustainable employment and business opportunities for the sector. Having grown up in Phakamisa Township, her role model has always been her mother who always showed the epitome of ‘women contribution’ in a male dominated sector. “I always admired the things she achieved and was able to change; never in a day did she ever let any discrimination kill her confidence. To me that just shows that there are roles for men and women in any sector, different skills and one motive, to get the work done”. Aneliseka is the youngest in the association but do not be misled by that; she is diligent, inquisitive and enthusiastic.
These two phenomenal women are based in Hogsback Village and are all for changing the narrative and doing things differently. The work that they have done and improvements that they have made that does not go unnoticed are:
What makes these two women so different? They are a fierce force and everything they have planned thus far has been successful. Being at an unfamiliar area and new ground, they are no quitters.
With COVID-19, operations have been rather challenging. The top two goals they have set is to make communities more aware of the causes and risks of wildfires and create more strategic breaks that could decrease the probabilities of wildfires around the regions that are managed by the FPA.
FireWise is a programme aimed at empowering interested communities to take responsibility for reducing the risk of uncontrolled fires in their areas. The programme employed 42 participants prior to COVID-19 and is scheduled to reopen soon.
Source: Eastern Cape Umbrella Fire Protection Association (ECUFPA)