If you were part of the women’s protest march in September, you would know that one name stood out: Lucinda Evans. She is a rare breed of human that has the ability to inspire and mobilise ordinary people into doing good. In recognition of her positive influence, the UK’s BBC has included her on their list of 100 women of 2019.
The 100 women list is compiled by the BBC to celebrate the most inspiring and influential women in the world. In deciding who will be on the list, the BBC basically asks, ‘Would the world be a better place if these 100 women ran it?’ It is indeed the case that Lucinda, a feminist activist, has been at the forefront of making the world a safer place for women and children.
Born in District Six and raised in Hanover Park, Lucinda decided at the age of 9 that she will spend her life helping others. As a young adult, she started by working for the Red Cross Hospital and doing community work right across South Africa. She was also instrumental in opening the first ambulance service in Beaufort West.
In 2008, Lucinda got tired of witnessing the abuse of women and children in Lavender Hill, and started a foundation which she named, ‘Philisa Abafazi Bethu’. The aim of the foundation is to help women and children, and educate them about their rights. Of course, as the mother of a daughter, this foundation is very personal to her.
In the community of Lavender Hill, she is both loved and feared. The community knows her as someone that puts her body on the line if she needs to rescue a woman or child from an abusive situation. The abusers however, obviously do not like her but they do fear her. Even the gangsters fear her for her strength.
During the first four years of the foundation’s existence, Lucinda paid for everything out of her own pocket, which included taking out two bonds on her house. By 2012, she had begun gaining recognition for her work and as a result, she received funding from the ‘Queen of Sweden’s World Childhood Foundation’.
By 2016, the acclaim for her work had already gone international, when she received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur from the ambassador of France to South Africa. The Légion d’Honneur was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and celebrates the accomplishments of distinguished individuals. South Africans who have received it include Desmond Tutu and Ahmed Kathrada.
Despite the international recognition, Lucinda only became recognizable to South Africans in 2017, when she assisted the family of the murdered 13-year-old Rene Roman. Through her foundation, she helped with the search of their daughter and provided them with emotional support. It was in September of this year however, that she unintentionally became the most influential leader of a movement.
It was the first day of Cape Town’s women’s march to parliament. The police had fired stun grenades and used water cannons on the protesters. The women were beaten with batons and 11 of them were arrested.
On the second day, as the police were approaching, an infuriated Lucinda took a megaphone, turned to the police and addressed them. Although she was bristling with anger, she spoke calmly and reminded them that they are the protectors and some are the fathers of daughters. She told them that their job as protectors is to not only protect the important people in parliament, but also the citizens of the country which included the protestors. She then asked for them to assist in protecting them and said in no uncertain terms that because they are the protectors, they won’t “moer” anyone today.
After addressing the police, she turned to the crowd, told them that she respects the protectors and that they are here to protect everyone. She emphasized that “they are not going to moer” anyone today. On that day, nobody got ‘moered’ and that’s how Lucinda Evans became the most influential leader of a women’s movement.
So, what has the most influential leader of a women’s movement been up to since then? Until recently, Lucinda was the chairperson of the Mitchells Plain Community Policing Forum but chose to step down so that she can focus on her foundation. She is currently one of 59 people being considered for the position of the Western Cape’s first Commissioner for Children. It is not clear what she does in her free time, because she is always busy helping others, which include finding homes for abandoned babies.
As for her hopes for the future, Lucinda tweets the following: “My hopes, as a Khoisan woman, are that we will one day be freed from violence against our bodies, and the bodies of our daughters, sisters, mothers and aunties. I hope that one day we will have a female president. For this, I will continue to advocate and rise in pain to power.”