Dear Members
For me, May has been a month of deep reflection. On an upbeat note, I have had the pleasure of joining other IWC members for a number of our activities and events over the past four weeks. It is quite a different experience joining a small group of familiar faces to the feeling of us all being together at our more formal General Meetings. It is in these smaller groups that we get to know each other better and also “make memories”. Making memories is one of the ties that bring us together on a deeper level within the club.
This month, I was honoured to join the past presidents of IWC Cape Town who gathered together for an annual event as they have done every year for 40 years. Looking around the table at faces that represented decades of being who we are, it made me ponder what is it that holds us together us a club and makes us the unique organisation that we are?
Somebody within our club who understood about ‘ties that bind’ was Rosalie Bloch, a founder member of IWC and one of our stalwart long-serving Area Reps. Her passing this month was abrupt and tragic. An unnecessary and heart-breaking casualty of the crime we live alongside in this beautiful but complex city. During her memorial service, listening to story after story highlighting what she had contributed to South Africa’s turbulent journey towards democracy, I was moved to re-evaluate what it is that makes a life worth living and what it is that holds value for us at the IWC. Rosalie always believed that the International Women’s Club was an association that had distinct purpose and a place that created positive bonds. She understood that together we could accomplish more than what we could as individuals. It was a belief she put into action during this country’s struggle years as a human rights lawyer and activist. Everyone who spoke at her memorial service used the word “love”, for Rosalie was a strong and practical lady of a very pragmatic action-focused form of love. Hers was the kind of love that achieved things; the kind of love that fought for justice; the kind of love that was brave in the face of trying times and outright warfare; and the kind of love that has left a formidable legacy not just for her family but also for many individuals who are now holding positions of leadership in this country’s government.
There is one thing she left with me on a personal basis – an awareness that the IWC is not just a fun events club but an organisation that offers far deeper ties and purpose than that. If you could ask every woman within IWC to share her life story so far, you would meet a whole lot of strong individuals who have accomplished an astonishing list of achievements. We have lawyers and business leaders, mayors and members of parliament, ambassadors and consuls, teachers and musicians, artists and writers … and that doesn’t even include their stories of being sisters, mothers, grandmothers or other strong members of their respective families. These same individual amazing women have chosen to join IWC, an organisation that has bonds and a distinct ethos that tie us together in a shared identity. Those bonds could be described as traditions; you might call them codes of conduct; it might be about our rituals and our rules of behaviour; it is about belonging to an international organisation far larger than ourselves and it is definitely about the way we present ourselves when we don our badges and enter the public domain as a representative group.  Every year it is important that we adjust our sails a little to keep up with changing technology, changing trends and a changing Cape Town.
However, there are some things that have been running deep in our club for four decades and these are the things that give us a constant sense of identity. They are the ties that bind.
The fundamental message at Rosalie’s memorial was the need to step up and love actively and with action. Her life pivoted around service and perhaps that is one of the things that remain constant at the IWC? We serve by loving. That means reaching out in the name of friendship to anyone in the club who needs the occasional hug, or a lift to an event, or a word of comfort, or a voiced recognition of something they have accomplished. It also means reaching out in service to people outside our club … not just because we do charity but because we serve. And we care. Its another tie that binds.
Rosalie’s children chose a very particular quotation by outspoken anthropologist Margaret Mead who recognized the strength that is woman, to share in honour of their mother:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only THING that ever HAS.”
This coming month of June – enjoy the activities on offer with every particle of your being. Find yourself a new friend. Experience something of Cape Town you have never experienced before. Go and make memories. And while you are out there doing exactly that … enjoy the feeling that you are an amazing woman within a club of other amazing women.
Celebrate the uniqueness of you while still honouring the unusual and rather special ties that bind us together as a club
Wendy Coetzee
President 2018

P.O.Box 587
Constantia 7848
Cape Town
Republic of South Africa
Wendy Coetzee
(083) 285-5933
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