Francesca Fondse | Representing the Voices of Abused Women in Intimate Relationships
It was an honor to interview the heroic Francesca Fondse. An Activist, Politician, Business Woman, SANEC member and a New York Times Author. She is the official South African Women’s Champion against GBV, Domestic Violence and Intimate Femicide with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, South Africa.
Name: Francesca Fondse
Country: South Africa
Industry: Women empowerment, Poverty alleviation, Impact Projects
Business Name: ANGELUS, De Angelus Estates, WIIN
Favorite Quote to live by:
“An individual has not started living until he(she) can rise above the narrow confines of his(her) individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
Martin Luther King Jnr
1. Please give us a bit of background on who you are and what you do? (what is your backstory/your business)
I am the youngest child of one of the first female graduate professionals and government appointees to public service during the time of Genl. Jan Smuts. My mother opposed the Nationalist government under Strydom, re the District 6 dispossession of people, and had to give up her political career to become a farmer. Even so, she inspired me, and I became very conscious about the political situation and life in South Africa. This carried into my young adult years, when my convictions of non-racialism and equality made me stand up as an activist against injustice, segregation and the lack of freedom within the apartheid system.
My first marriage
My first husband Leon was the “father” of black empowerment in South Africa and founder of the South African Black Taxi Association (SABTA), FABCOS and later Future Bank, a time during which we worked together on several matters prior to and whilst we were married. Leon met an untimely end, under suspicious circumstances surrounding the cause of his death. Having been married to Leon, who was an economic activist and black-business front-man, there were several attempts made on our lives between the years of 1985 to 1994. Because of our activism, I had been abducted by the Apartheid Government during July 1987, when my eldest daughter was a mere 5 months old...
A second marriage
I met my second husband during the time when I was a traumatized woman who had lost her first husband and our home and had children to provide for. At first, he seemed like a long-awaited relief, offering peace and love in place of turmoil. We lived as partners for several years, but after our official marriage, his behavior started to turn toxic – he became full of criticism of me and the children, acted in ways which were indicative of systematic devaluation, lied to me, and exposed us to financial exploitation in our pharmacy businesses and the abuse of the assets of our joint estate. His behavior began to slowly undermine my personal values, leaving me mentally and emotionally exhausted. This led to my physical collapse in 2007, soon after the birth of my fourth child, during which I flat-lined in hospital. When I was released, I was bound to homecare for six months, during which I was unable to function as a mother and a businesswoman for almost a year.
Always a focused scholar of mysticism, my knowledge aided me during the time of recovery from my physical collapse. In the days of healing, I received downloads or visions which resulted in four published literary works:
Etude d’ Elude, Memoirs in Poetry and Prose
In the Etude, I published segments of events within her challenges and the wrenching choices which had to be made.
In the Angelus Series:
1. Angelus Volume I: The Gift of LOVE
2. Angelus Volume II: The Face of LOVE
3. Angelus Volume III: The Power of LOVE
The Angelus series teaches deep mystic knowledge and how it is applied in history, architecture, religion and in your personal daily life. As a scholar of mysticism, it is my wish to enlighten people and contribute dignity to the disadvantaged.
As an entrepreneur with immense vision, along with the knowledge of an experienced independent politician, circumstances allowed me to design the De Angelus Estates (www.deangelus.co.za), named in synergy to and inspired by the wisdom of the Angelus books, which is a project in resonance with the -
1. The National Development Plan
2. The Rural Development Plan
3. The Agro Development Plan
4. The Skills Development Plan
5. And the Youth Development Plan of South Africa
The De Angelus Estates uses unique sustainable, industrious, social and spiritual designs which produces solutions for conservation tourism, spiritual tourism, bio-pharmaceutics, green technologies, organic agriculture, hospitality & tourism, agro tourism, education and high-end produce.
De Angelus Estates joined the UN Global Compact to implement the SDG’s, and those are applied within all of her current 13 development impact projects:
The inexplicable behaviours of my second husband continued into 2013. This brought about the decision to end the marriage which became indicative of gaslighting, verbal, emotional, psychological and economic abuse. It is due to the four years of her extreme acrimonious divorce that I am is so personally and deeply concerned with the plight of women in South Africa. When I finally sought help, I experienced the ineffectiveness of the national Justice System and how it fails divorcing businesswomen, and in fact most women attempting to leave abusive partners, only to deliver secondary victimization and trauma. Often the woman’s business is affected adversely, leading to job losses. The plight of women in South Africa eventually led to the Presidential Summit on GBV 2018. I am determined to fight for the rights of, and the economic empowerment of women!
In September 2017, within months after my appointment as the South African Champion for Women against GBV, Domestic Violence and Intimate Femicide, by the DOJ&CD, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, I found the NPO WIIN, after several discussions with the departments and other stakeholders.
WIIN is thus the official National Outreach Programme which aims to empower women, especially those affected by violence like Domestic Violence, Gender-Based Violence, the LGBTIQ communities and those affected by human trafficking. WIIN was created in response to the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women during 2015, which recommended that the South African Government develop a National Femicide Prevention Strategy and establish a Femicide Watch. This was because an estimated 1300 professional women are murdered annually by their intimate partners alone.
The WIIN team will be supported by nine Provincial Heads of Province, 52 District Managers and 780 WIIN Ambassadors based in 205 local municipalities. WIIN joined the international anti-trafficking drive, and the WIINwomen App is applicable in variable situations confronting women today:
Socio-economic empowerment of women and girls offers a solution that may alleviate or completely address underlying causes of violence, especially amongst deprived women. In 2016, the United Nations yet again called upon the South African government to take quick action to address these horrendous acts of violence against women and children in the country. Women Integral Impact Network (WIIN) was founded in 2017 to empower vulnerable women with financial knowledge, personal wellness, and financial independence to prevent femicide and overcome the effects of domestic violence within households and workplaces. Domestic violence incidences in South Africa is more than double the global average!
Over the last two years, with the DOJ&CD Dialogues presented in all of the nine provinces, they reached approximately 2,700 government officials through awareness campaigns presented as Dialogues. I was honoured to co-present the Dialogues in order to mobilise and create a movement in support of the prevention of domestic violence, intimate femicide and gender-based violence in the workplace.
WIIN also received endorsement and an open invitation from South Africa’s King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu of the Zulu, to participate in the annual Reed Dance Ceremony and provide education in ending gender-based violence and femicide. Over the last two years WIIN provided training to approximately 40,000 young women and girls attending this annual cultural ceremony that is held every year in September. During the event WIIN provided talks on life skills and gender intelligence training with the aim to prevent domestic violence and femicide. We also equipped the participants with knowledge on the importance of financial independence and entrepreneurship for women in their homes.
Through WIIN, the team and I are currently in the early stages of implementing various impact projects for the advancement of women and youth in tribal land in South Africa, in consultation with Nkosi Sipho Mahlangu, the current Chairperson of the Executive Committee of COGTA, and the traditional leaders of South Africa Chieftaincies. The specific projects will be implemented in KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga Provinces, as well as in Free States and Eastern Cape which are mainly rural with high unemployment rates and high HIV prevalence. The aim of the project is to address widespread vulnerabilities such as the high unemployment rates and HIV prevalence.
The WIIN website online platform is aimed at teaching women the skills and knowledge to prevent, survive and thrive post the hardships of femicide and domestic violence. The WIINwomen app (launched September 2018 on Appstore and Playstore) provides a woman with an emergency button to connect her with national emergency call centres, and the WIINwomen website includes features such as the nearest SAPS police stations, Clinics, Magisterial Courts and WIIN Ambassador, should she be in the grips of violence.
I recently joined to the movement against discrimination of minorities and the LGBTIQ in South Africa in November 2018. In the same month, the South African parliament approved the Albertina Sisulu ♯100 Women of Fortitude, 2018/19.
And I am absolutely grateful to be a ♯WomanofFortitude in the ♯AlbertinaSisulu100 women empowerment organization
Please support WIIN generously on:
2. What are three business & life lessons you have learned throughout your journey?
Strive to make a difference, and success will follow
Success at that which has great social impact will always produce rewards
Love yourself first. Self-love is crucial in achieving success and our ability to recognize the needs of others
3. What advice can you give other entrepreneurs that is struggling to breakthrough the glass sealing in reaching their goals?
Define your vision and focus on the desired outcome no matter what. But do not be too attached to the journey or the outcome. Walk in purpose, and you will make it!
4. When & how did your big shift take place?
I think I was born with a desire to see humanity transform. Then global warming brought many questions! We had to finally realize that nature and humanity were part of the greater scheme of things, interconnected and sacred. The world had to start looking for alternative energy, alternative approach to business etc.…
The global perspective had to catch up with what I already knew in my youth. We have to transact with our souls!
5. What inspires and motivates you? What wakes you up every morning, make you get the work done and do it all over again the next day?
Every smile from my children. Every ‘thank you’ from someone who found meaning in my being and every moment I know something I did, said or initiated something which mattered to someone else. That is living!
6. How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? What makes you unique?
I have no innate desire to compete. Every person or organization is a possible collaborator!
7. What do you think is the biggest trend we will see in 2019 within the entrepreneur space?
There is a definite movement towards impact. Entrepreneurs are redefining the human condition. I have noticed more and more that business is becoming customer and community satisfaction focused.
There is a definite drive towards socio-economic solution-driven enterprise.
8. Any other question you would like to see shift in the global entrepreneurial space?
I would like to see women take entrepreneurship in their multitudes. And to see male-dominant businesses partner with female entrepreneurs.
Statistics have proven this more effective and leads to rise in productivity.