Wally Mbhele, Sunday World Editor. //Photo by Bongiwe Mchunu


Our readers are gracious. When we made a heavy demand on them to nominate for us women they believe have been making strides and a meaningful impact in their communities, they did not hesitate to heed our call. They raised their hands and gave us women of stature we today profile on our pages. We are eternally indebted to our readers. 

We are proud of what we got. We are proud of our nation. We know we have more outstanding career women who did not make it to our final list of around 70 profiles. This was not because of any deficiencies. Limited space always stands in the way. 

Significantly, these women have defied all kind of odds and stereotypes. We remember the words of the architect of apartheid and Bantu Education, Henrik Verwoerd. He described black people’s usefulness as only appropriate for manual work. In his words, he said “they are hewers of wood and drawers of waters”. 

Such stereotypes still persist. Our boardrooms are populated by men, in the main. Politics, churches, business, academia and other professions continue with their discrimination. 

We are grateful that the women in our pages have debunked that racist nonsense by Verwoerd. 

In our supplement today, we feature engineers, women in agriculture, women in tourism, women in specialised medicine, medical scientists, women skilled in technology, business leaders, community leaders and women in specialised law, among others. 

We are thankful to the writers who compiled the profiles. They are great human beings. They love the craft. We have to single out Siza Mtimkulu, our colleague, resourceful and a great writer who is concerned about women empowerment, the arts and journalism. 

SA is going through a difficult period of great uncertainty. Governance is unsteady. Poverty is rife. Unemployment rate is on the rise. But the women in these pages are teaching us something profound – that they have the tools and the wherewithal to fix our ailing country. 

Jo-Mangaliso Mdhlela