When we women realise that we are the catalyst for unity — the bond of love and nurture that fosters growth and development — we will be the answer South Africa needs,” says Easlyn Young.
Young holds many titles. She is the chairperson of the First Youth Theatre Company, the eThekwini Municipality Chair of the Portfolio Committee for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, a community activist, a swimming coach and a mother.
As a student, Young was inspired by the sentiment of “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” (I am because you are) while volunteering to help the residents of a retirement home purchase groceries, spring-clean their rooms and do their hair.
After receiving various diplomas in education and management, a career in community development — which, as Young describes, was in her youth known as a social justice intervention for the “have-nots” — became the most natural place for her to practise and express empathy and compassion, to raise awareness and to address injustices.
Through her involvement with the Black Consciousness Movement and the direct influence of leaders like Bantu Stephen Biko, Young found her calling working with vulnerable communities in need of a voice.
For Young, the best part of engaging in leadership is learning to listen.
“Listening,” she says, “affirms participants and teaches one more than one could ever imagine; a book of lessons unfolds as one listens.”
Leadership and community activism provide Young with a licence for creativity that stimulates thinking, dialogue and vision, and challenges her humility in accepting the opinions and ideas of others.
She explains: “No one is an island unto themselves just because [they] hold a leadership position. Leadership is the joy of having people around who will hold one’s hand and walk along through it all.”
For Young, the biggest difficulty that spans across her various careers is accepting that people will come and go. She has learned that by understanding and respecting the journeys of other leaders, facilitators and participants, egotistical interference can be avoided.
If she could achieve anything for South Africa today, it would be the enhancement of an assured identity among the coloured community and, by extension, the advancement of a non-racial society with authentic pride and patriotism.
Young believes that the leadership potential of women in South Africa is beyond measure. She implores: “Do not allow patriarchy to manipulate us into position seekers and status mongers. The ‘Queen Bee’ syndrome is our undoing. Do not sting other women, embrace them. This starts at home, and must be the representation of who we are in every sector of society.”