Why Digital Divas is Unlike Any Other Women’s Event

The month of August is replete with Women’s Month awarenesses, events, shoe and lipstick sales, and even comes with a day off, all in the hope of making women feel special and seen. A few years ago I wrote a rather brazen article entitled: Is Women’s Month Still A Thing? Where I ranted about the frivolity of having one month dedicated to us women. Reading back on this piece makes me kinda sorta cringe, because something happened that made me change my mind about the importance of celebrating women: The Digital Divas Summit.

Working within a tech ecosystem and putting on regular tech-based events, we noticed that most of our attendees and speakers were predominantly male. On a recce outside of the slick and modern halls of Innovation City, our MD Michelle Kleu found herself at an event celebrating startups, but in a room full of men! We had to do something about this – and so we did! We organised our inaugural Digital Divas Summit.

From the get-go, the programme for the one day event was meant to be a journey – in particular, a woman’s journey toward success in life and in business, interwoven with relevant topics that we found pertinent, interesting, controversial, uplifting, and fun!

Last year’s summit boasted a lineup of 20 powerful women speakers, who all donated their time for the upliftment of women. They shared their expertise, experiences, and strategies for success, providing attendees with insights that were both inspiring and practical.

Here are my personal observations from last year’s summit:

Vusi Vokwana quietly thanking me for organising her and Matsi Modise to open the summit with their amazing Breakfast Talk made me realise independent black female entrepreneurs are often relegated to the back of an event programme.

I wanted Lisa Zimmermann to literally hypnotise the attendees (Let’s have a wow moment – a spectacle! Let’s make someone think she’s a chicken!)  but instead she quietly, collectedly and calmly spoke to us about training our brains to rather think intellectually and peacefully and, well, to let things slide!

During our spirited and somewhat chaotic Generative AI debate: the “Battle of the Babes,” I realised that there was not enough time in the day to get everyone’s opinion because almost everyone really wanted to have their say! Can’t even remember whether we were for or against Gen AI in the end, because we were giving away pairs of Veldskoen Shoes for participation and everyone wanted a pair!

Andrea Böhmert’s initial dislike of using the word ‘Diva’ when we pitched the idea to her, turned into an amazing Masterclass on “How to Negotiate Like a Diva” and had everyone copying her email address down after she shared it! Wonder how many emails she got after that…

Last but not least (and most certainly not all and everything that happened – there were many more memorable moments and learnings and hugs and wine-fuelled promises and conversations), I had the privilege of interviewing Shelley Zalis, Founder & CEO of The Female Quotient, as she Zoomed in live from what looked like her kitchen in LA.

I have to say I was very impressed with this mighty woman because she gracefully accepted to be part of the summit without asking for anything – she understood the significance of the event, she was personally open to discussion, and on the day of the interview, she wasn’t ballsy or brash (in that Americanesque, ball-busting-powerful-woman kinda way), she spoke with a sensitivity that surprised me; she spoke of how her mom was her greatest inspiration, and got unabashedly teary eyed about it.

It was at that moment that I realised that this is what Digital Divas has that other, overly expensive events filled with Ministers of Whateverthefuck don’t: Digital Divas has HEART. It has SOUL. It has INCLUSION. It has DIVERSITY. It also had lots of LAUGHS throughout the day but particularly when we lost Shelley for a few minutes and I was stuck alone on stage and had to do an impromptu comedy set to entertain the audience – something to do with hoping they were not ‘miffed,’ but wouldn’t we all rather be ‘muffed…’ IYKYK! I mean only at a women’s conference, am I right?!

Only at Digital Divas, actually.

Join us this year, won’t you? This year’s theme is GROWTH, and if last year is anything to go by, this year is gonna be one helluva fun ride!

Sandra Buckingham is a Freelance Journalist, Innovation City’s CMO and Cofounder of The Digital Divas Summit.