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Giddings, standing tall in a male-dominated world

Diane Xavier | 3/27/2014, 9:13 p.m.

Another one of Giddings’ passions that she shared at the lecture was her involvement with South Africa.

Currently, Giddings is the South African honorary consul for Texas.

“What is happening to women and girls in South Africa is far worse than what is happening to women and girls in the United States,” she said. “Very often, girls are the last one to eat dinner or breakfast and after everybody else has eaten, if you eat last you might be least.”

Giddings said girls in South Africa are often pulled out of school and sent to work or asked to help around the house.

“Frequently, when women in Africa lose their husbands or their parents and when they come into an inheritance, they get it taken away from them,” she said. “When women go to the bank, workers at the bank want to know where the husband is, where the father is. Somebody demands that the man needs to be accompanying you. It’s very strange for me because I think in this country for a long time, we think we had conversations about what comes first, is it political power or economic power. But in South Africa, women are doing very well politically, but they still live in a male-dominated society. Today, women in South Africa hold over 50 percent of elected positions.”

Despite this, Giddings said women are often victims of domestic abuse, rape and other kinds of things they are not able to get help for.

Giddings concluded that women in the United States could learn from the women of South Africa about gaining political power and vice versa. However, she said in order to get far, everyone will have to take a collaborative effort in order to make changes.

“We have spent at a lot of time dealing with our personal accomplishments and all of us must do that,” she said. “We must work on those goals and we must be concerned with our success as individuals, but we must also be concerned about that collective piece, because unless we all move together collectively, it’s just not going to happen. We really have to be concerned about moving ahead collectively.”