For many women in South Africa, the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown arrived like a tsunami, barreling down upon unsuspecting mothers, wives, and sisters who may well have been barely maintaining a precarious balance before that wall came crashing down. Although certain forms of financial assistance have been tabled, there are women who fall between the cracks, and they are very near drowning. The Woman of Stature Foundation wanted to throw these women a lifeline, and so, patrons, members and directors of the organisation – those who may once have been The Forgotten Women, rose up.
The Forgotten Women – The South African Story is a collection of fifteen contributions from some of South Africa’s most successful women. As they share their journeys from pain and despair to success and selflove, the raw emotion and indomitable spirit of South African women springs off the pages. Tale after tale of humble beginnings, pain, loss, struggle, and overcoming it all, will twine around your heart, and spark inspiration within you. The contributors are: Nonkululeko Gobodo, Dr Nirmala Reddy, Sue Moodley, Rita Govender, Shereen Hunter, Marthe-Marie Kohne, Venencia Mhonde, Dr Shakira Choonara, DM Pinky Kekana, Yavi Madurai, Kathy Mann, Tshepiso Maledu, Nicole Fuller, Dr Catherine van Heerden and Lynn Hill.
Businesswoman and board member at the Woman of Stature Foundation, Sue Moodley, kicks off the collection with her tale of grace under pressure and overcoming personal tragedy and systemic discrimination to build an empire. Kathy Mann relates her journey through burnout and resulting illness and finding her true destiny on the other side. Nonkululeko Gobodo’s contribution focuses on her role as a mother and how she was able to eventually find a way to combine that with her work and accolades such as being South Africa’s first black female Chartered Accountant. Lynn Hill’s devastating account of the impact of Apartheid and violent crime in her life is raw, beautiful, and immensely inspirational. South Africa’s deputy minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Pinky Kekana shares her humble beginnings and how surviving domestic violence gave her the strength to power through and overcome. Shereen Hunter is a prolific businesswoman today and in her contribution, she explains how gender inequity in corporate South Africa has driven her journey to creating companies in which all are equal. Dr Shakira Choonara details her struggle to love and accept herself and the difficulties she experienced in the world of academics. Venencia Mhonde relates her early experiences of patriarchy in Africa and her ongoing journey to ensure that women never take a back seat.
By sharing their stories, the Women of Stature hope to have a dual impact. Firstly, all proceeds from the book will go toward assisting women who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and, secondly, that these stories of triumph in the darkest of times will inspire many more Forgotten Women to rise up.
The initiative was launched by Charlotte du Plessis, CEO of Woman of Stature and Woman of Stature Foundation. She has dedicated the book to her late Mother, Sisters and Daughters who she says are her heartbeat and all the women she has met along her life journey who have sowed into her life.
The forward is written by global award winner and author Professor Shirley Zinn, Patron of the Woman of Stature Foundation and the book has been released on Amazon as an E-Book with proceeds going to the Woman of Stature Foundation (NPC). It has launched with a discount price of R190 valid during August for Women’s Month and then at R220 thereafter, with plans for a print edition to be available later this year.
The Woman of Stature Foundation was formed to address the socio-economic challenges that are prevalent in South Africa, by making a valued contribution through development of women and to be an intervention with preventative measures for women who find themselves in a sudden destitute situation so that they become independent and contribute to society.