I am Generation Equality - Cally Silberbauer, South African athlete and gender equality activist


I am Generation Equality -  Cally Silberbauer, South African athlete and gender equality activist

Three actions you can take to end gender-based violence:

  • Have a mindset change through education to stop cycles of violence
  • Men, speak up for the women around you
  • Women, occupy the space and make yourselves heard
    Icon- a girl raises her arm

I am Generation Equality because…

I want to make a statement that, as women, we can do things by ourselves. We can go out and live our dreams. Around 2020, I listened to a podcast about Rebecca Rush, who had cycled up to Mt. Kilimanjaro and I felt that I really wanted to cycle through Africa and explore our beautiful continent. I decided on cycling to Mt. Kilimanjaro from Cape Town as a solo mission and then cycling up the mountain. I feel a lot of the time as a woman you're told that you shouldn't go out and do things by yourself. But I decided that I was going to change that and go anyway. I don't want my gender to hold me back in any way. Hopefully, it will inspire other women to follow in my footsteps, not necessarily cycling to Mt. Kilimanjaro, but just taking a step out of whatever unhealthy situation they are in.

What are the most urgent issues of our time?

Gender-based violence has been an issue in South Africa for many years. As part of this mission, I am raising funds for the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children. I didn't realize the center has been around for 20 years. I talked to one of the founders there when I visited recently and she said it saddens her that the center has been here for so long because it shouldn't still be necessary, today. We shouldn't have to have a center with so much security for women to go there and feel safe. Women should be allowed to walk on the streets or cycle, and not have to fear for their lives. I think it is a massive issue and I didn’t want to just stand by and complain about it. I want to actually make a difference, by doing something and hopefully the small little bit will somehow be significant.

How can men be a part of the solution? 

Mainly we tell women how to dress and say don't go out by yourself, or make sure you have pepper spray or don't go out after dark, but I think we need to start speaking to men and say don't rape this woman, that is walking after dark. You shouldn't have to tell a woman to be careful, you should start speaking to men and saying don't do that, it is not right.

Why should everyone be a women’s rights activist?

To be a human’s rights activist you have to be a women’s rights activist. Women are just as capable as men and right now, I think there is a big movement where women are saying “Okay, we are here, we have voices, we are capable and we want to take up our space.”

Cally Silberbauer is a 28 year old freelance graphic designer who enjoys spending a lot of time outside and going on adventures, whether it’s on her bicycle or running. She is riding her bicycle from Cape Town to Mt. Kilimanjaro then attempting to set the female fastest known time cycling up the mountain. Through her ride, Cally is supporting the The Saartjie Baartman Centre which provides a safe haven for women and children that have been abused. There is 24/7 security at the gate for peace of mind. It is a place for survivors to finally have a chance at finding independence and ultimately, freedom.

Photo: Kleinjan Groenewald