The joy of parents and guardians is to see the child they have nurtured being successful in ways they could not have imagined but how much these parents put into the modelling of future generations is still in question.

Creating a pathway for children is as important as providing for their daily needs and this is why in recent times it is pertinent to emphasize the importance of mentorship in the lives of the youths and school-age children for the growth and development of society.

Margaret Hirsch, Co-Founder Hirsch’s Homestore South Africa, saw this gap and with her “Girl with Dignity” initiative, has taught hundreds of girls the need for self-esteem in today’s world.

In an exclusive interview with Amazons Watch Magazine, Mrs Hirsch talks about the value of hard work, determination, dedication, and self-esteem. Excerpt:

In a few sentences, please describe the person of MARGARET HIRSCH.

Margaret is an enthusiastic and energetic person who loves life. She is someone who is energized by her work and loves helping people to be the best that they can be. She has worked with people across the board from the richest to the poorest – but especially loves working with women and children. Margaret works every day to improve her life and the lives of those around her.

Many women across the continent tend to give up on their dreams when faced with challenges early in life. What are some of the things that have kept you going despite the odds?

I give them my example and the example of people I have helped.  Hard Work; Knowing that everything is possible; Never giving up. If I can do it – so can they.

In recent times, young people who venture into businesses want to hit it big from the very beginning. If you were asked to give three (3) pieces of advice to such people what will they be?

There is no such thing as getting rich quickly. The only way to get rich is the long slow path of determination, dedication and hard work.

Topics centred on women empowerment have served as a focus for major world women conferences for some years now especially with the United Nations 2030 SDGs deadline to close the gender gaps. In your opinion as a champion of women empowerment, what do you think can be done differently to ensure that in the shortest possible time women across the continent are financially independent?

You have got to invest your money. For every R10 you earn, R1 should be given to charity, R1 should be saved and R1 should be invested. And then use the other R7 to do whatever it is you want to do.

Africans are beginning to appreciate the importance of mentorship. This is one of the things your “girls with dignity” projects stand for. What advice will you give to teenage girls?

God gives you a little bit of money and sees how you handle it. If you handle it well then he gives you a bit more but if you handle it badly then he just does not give you any more. That’s why a lot of people remain poor. I teach girls to believe in themselves – to build confidence from within; it is the only way to get ahead.

Being a mother, grandmother, and a businesswoman, how have you managed to balance business and family life? What are some of the things you do for leisure?

I make a pretty good point in balancing my family life. I make time for my family as I make time for my work. There are 24 hours in a day and I am very lucky that I don’t sleep a lot. I sleep between 2 to 4 hours a night so that I have a lot of time to do the things that other people don’t do. I do allocate time for my husband, my children and my grandchildren. For instance, I left home when I was 16 years old and I’m 67 this year and I’ve spoken to my mother every day of my life, wherever I have been in the world I phone her between 5 pm or 6 pm in her time to see how she is and I try to catch up with her problems of the day and how she has solved them and how I can help her with them. I speak to my children every day and I try and speak to my grandchildren every day as well. I think if we just keep the lines of communication open, then that is the way to do it.


What is your take on the issue of marginalization against women across regions? Do you think it still exists and what can be done to bridge gender gaps?

I think that women are their own worst enemies. First of all, they should stand up and tell everyone how fantastic they are. They should stand up to men and realise that they really don’t need to have a man in their lives unless he is there to serve them, make them feel better and feel better about themselves in building them up. A lot of women feel that they really need a man in their life. I think those days are gone. There are many women that realise that they can have a better life without one. But I always say that you should have a life partner and if you can find the right person then you should consider your life extremely fortunate. Also, realise that this does not happen by accident, you have to go out and look for what you want in a person.

What will you say are the most pressing challenges that teenage girls are faced with having engaged with them on your “Girls with Dignity” project?

The Girls with Dignity Project has grown in strength from day to day.  Girls with Dignity are world leaders through reusable sanitary pads and the work we have done across Africa has been phenomenal. The most challenging factor playing girls in under privilege areas is the lack of self-esteem and the feelings if there is no hope for them out there. I teach them hope.  I help to motivate them by asking them to look at themselves in the future – a future they can create themselves.  Once they have visualised this, it will become a reality.

What is the one thing you would have changed in your life if given the opportunity?

I would love to have become involved in motivation at a much earlier age. If people could have come into the schools and explained motivation to me and help me to grow my self-esteem, I would have been a different person today. That is why I work in the schools hoping that I can make a difference in other people’s lives by teaching them motivation and enhancing their self-esteem.

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