FOR WOMEN: Actors Nomvelo Makhanya (seated) and Nandi Mbatha are passionate about making a difference in the lives of underprivileged girls. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Young actresses Nandi Mbatha and Nomvelo Makhanya are starting their inaugural sanitary pads drive this month to commemorate Women’s Month. 
Although the idea of a pads drive is common, the two actresses have said they were determined to make a difference, no matter the cost.

Makhanya is known as the character Lindiwe on the local soapie on ETV, Scandal!, while Mbatha is known for her role as Simi on Mzansi Magic’s Isithembiso.

These young women will be heading to various universities on August 17 and 24 to rally young people to assist with donating sanitary pads, deodorant, and toothpaste.

The aim of this initiative is to create awareness about the plight of the lack of sanitary items not being accessible.

Mbatha said that because she’s a feminist, she believes that celebrating Women’s Month was important and the pads drive was a great start.

“I actually believe in celebrating women every day and not just in a specific month. For me, it means doing things that we should be doing every day, but just more. This means coming together, embracing each other and feeling the feminine energy by uplifting each other as women,” she said.

“I’ve noticed that as women it’s very easy for us to bring each other down. I like the fact that this month women are united. We are a strong front together,” Mbatha added.

Makhanya said giving back as young entertainment influencers was exciting, especially as she would not be doing it alone. “Periods shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want, learning or working.

“We are just trying to give back to the community. I am trying to go to more schools to motivate more donations. We are trying to make a difference, especially with teenagers,” Makhanya pointed out.

Apart from being activists for change, the 22-year-olds unpacked their life in the industry and their female role models.

Makhanya said the defining challenges that young females face in the industry were still equality issues and proving that she was deserving of the platform.

“There was never a plan – I guess I’ve always known that I would be in this industry. This just fell into place.

“But being a young woman in the acting and entertainment industry always has defining challenges in that they are not treated as equals. Men get paid more than us. I am young, and I probably deserve the least, but it doesn’t make any sense to me, because often we put in the same amount of work or effort,” she pointed out.

Among other things, Makhanya said there are many perverts in the industry and that there are a lot of older men who prey on young female actors.

“There are father figures in the industry who, out of respect are called ‘baba’ or ‘daddy’, but they take this as sexual tones,” she said.

Refusing to dwell on the negativity she had witnessed, Makhanya said she had grown beyond acting on screen.

“I’ve grown and they always say this. I see things in a different perspective. I am more mature and I know what I want,” she said.

Mbatha said she owes her growth to her mother, who was a key influential female role model in her life.

“My mom is a strong woman. She is the definition of the woman I aspire to be one day because she was able to present a strong front and we were never exposed to any negativity, and that was only because she protected us and she sacrificed a lot,” she added.