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

“Good done anywhere is good done everywhere … As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.” This is the piece of wisdom we take from legendary poet, author and activist Maya Angelou as we today dedicate this edition to those who “always try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud”. 

Sunday World Heroic Women was launched last year in recognition of exceptional South Africa’s women pathfinders who live not only for themselves, but also for others. 

Their lives are breathing with acts of courage and selflessness. 

This supplement is interspersed with powerful accounts of the noble journeys they have embarked upon in their lives. It is a special tribute to their different excursions whose common theme is their constant pursuit of critical goals aimed at giving harmony and proportion to some of the most crucial challenges of our time. 

The Sunday World Heroic Women are in no small measure not different to the courageous women of 1956 who were determined and ready to sacrifice even their lives when they took to the Union Buildings to demand a better life for their fellow South Africans. 

These are women who invoke memories of luminaries and stalwarts such as Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophie de Bruyn and many others who through their bravery and courage taught us that it was, indeed, possible to challenge and change the status quo without resorting to conformity. 

In this special supplement, Sunday World reflects how women continue to make remarkable strides with the outstanding work they are immersed with in their everyday life and how they never lose hope even in the face of hostile environments. 

The array of women who are featured in this supplement are drawn from all walks of life, are representatives of the country’s demographics, proving that given an opportunity, which apartheid denied their forebears for many years, they have the majestic power to change the country’s social, economic and political trajectory. 

They innovative in many different ways and demonstrate a deep commitment to the plight of the downtrodden in their communities. Their role in fields such as science and technology, business, tourism, academia and many others, serve as an inspiration that can, undoubtedly drive this country to greater heights. 

It is with a great sense of pride that we – as a publication – associate ourselves with the remarkable journeys they have undertaken in their different fields and communities across the breadth of South Africa. 

This edition would also have not been possible without many institutions and stakeholders without whose support and generosity the 2022 Sunday World Heroic Women would not have been realised. In particular, we are deeply indebted to SANRAL, Central University of Technology (Free State), National Lotteries Commission, Limpopo Tourism,- Tshwane University of Technology and Industrial Development Corporation. A special thanks to all our readers who passionately assisted us in identifying all these trailblazers worth the honour of being the 2022 Sunday World Heroic Women. 

And to all the 2022 Heroic Women, remember that as much as people can forget what you said and what you did, they will never forget how you made them feel as Angelou taught us in one of her profound essays. 


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