In 2004 the Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Women of the Year Award celebrated our country’s Decade of Democracy by honouring nine Women of the Year in their respective categories of Arts, Culture and Communications; Business Entrepeneurs; Community Affairs; Education; Health; Media and Communications; Science and Technology, Social Services; and Sport.
Gauteng-based Masingita Masunga has given physically disabled people throughout South Africa an opportunity to make valuable contributions to society through projects created by her Tinyungubyiseni Talent Promotions company. As the company’s Managing Director and a champion of the disabled from an early age, Ms Masunga has overcome her own disability of cerebral palsy to establish an organisation that motivates men, women and the youth.
Tinyungubyiseni staged the country’s first beauty pageant for the disabled, the Miss Confidence SA competition, and promotes Nyeleti – Star Beyond Limits, a music competition for people with disabilities. A culmination of initiatives undertaken by people with disabilities for people with disabilities, the organisation embarks on initiatives countrywide. These include workshops and training, a soccer tournament, motivational talks and schools tours, all of which aim to raise public awareness about people with physical disabilities, and serve to reinforce the fact that disability does not mean inability.
Chair judge of the Arts and Culture category of the Award, Mr Sipho Mabuse said Ms Masunga’s contribution to physically disabled people in South Africa makes her a true role model. “Ms Masunga has reached her goals with minimal resources. She is an incredible activist in her field who has risen above her challenging background to make a national impact. She fundraises herself and, without the resources that others have access to, she has become an outstanding role model.”
After Ms Masunga won the Award she was named one of the top ten women in South Africa for 2004, won the Amstel Salute to success 2005 and was a nominee for the Cosmopolitan Mover of the Year 2005.
Sabina Khoza, one of South Africa’s top poultry farmers, is taking her knowledge to the community via the Fair Deal Education and Production Training Centre, which she has initiated on her Fair Deal Poultry Farm at Zuurbekom near Soweto. The first group of trainees completed their course in November 2003, and close on 100 farmers, the majority of whom are women, have graduated from the centre prior to starting their own small businesses.
Ms Khoza entered the business world in 1988 with just 10 chickens and very little knowledge of farming. Now producing 150 000 birds annually, she has been the recipient of numerous farming-related awards, including Female Farmer of the Year.
She is currently serving her second term as President of the Gauteng Provincial Farmers Union and is also secretary-general of the National African Farmers’ Union. Ms Khoza’s successful farming venture incorporates the latest technology and farming methods, and additional community projects include vegetable and maize production, as well as a guesthouse, which accommodates trainee farmers.
Chair judge of the Business Entrepreneurs category of the Award, Ms Mabel Makibelo said Ms Khoza’s contribution to her community and to the country is inspiring. “She shows an extremely encouraging spirit of entrepreneurship by empowering community members in the true sense of the word. With no support system Ms Khoza is extremely hands-on in her training of community members, offering them opportunities as partners, not just as employees, and she has overcome numerous challenges to develop a successful business.”
Nomthunzi Joyce Mali is a faith healer by calling, and has embarked upon her own extraordinary quest to reach out to people. A true community builder who has assisted with a number of projects in the impoverished Zigodlo Village near Debe Nek in the Eastern Cape, she has given hope to orphans and street children, promoted spiritual healing and focused on the reduction of crime through a number of youth development projects.
Acknowledging the importance of feeding the body, the mind and the soul, her projects have been instrumental in offering hope and a more positive outlook to community members through the developing and furnishing of schools as well as churches in her area. Ms Mali has also founded two successful gospel groups and facilitated the building of a gym.
Chair judge of the Community Affairs category of the Award, Ms Diane Terblanche said Ms Mali’s contribution to community development has had a rippling effect throughout the poverty-stricken area of the Eastern Cape. “The breadth of her involvement within communities is astounding, and she brings a tremendous amount of energy to her projects. The demonstrable effects of her work are tremendous and she has made a vast difference to communities within the Eastern Cape, and further afield.”
The first black woman to head a South African medical faculty, Professor Moja is a brilliant academic and leader who firmly believes in the great need for training of Health professionals, particularly from disadvantaged communities.
Professor Moja stepped into her new role as Dean of the Faculty of Health Science at the University of the Free State in December 2003, after fulfilling the role of Vice-Dean of the faculty from 2002. Prior to this she headed the Gynaecologic Oncology Unit at Ga-Rankuwa Hospital in Pretoria from 1997 to 2002.
Professor Moja is widely acknowledged for her leadership, dedication and compassion, and as someone who continually focuses on improving the circumstances of others, she inspires all that come into contact with her. She is passionate about unity and harmony while maintaining cultural differences, and is held in high regard by a broad cross-section of colleagues both young and old. A competent leader, she also serves on the Medical and Dental Board and is the Vice-President of the Health Professions Council.
Professor Veronica McKay, member of the Education judging panel, said Professor Moja’s incredible humility and her natural sense of ubuntu are key factors in her success. “She has a long, successful and consistent track record within her field, and she continues to be gracious in her leadership. Professor Moja’s generous spirit, and her caring and sharing nature add to her success as a true achiever. She has reached incredible heights within her field and she takes her colleagues along with her. Professor Moja’s successful past is as encouraging as her promising future.”
Professor Moja recently obtained a Masters in Business Administration with the University of Free State to enhance her managerial skills.
Dr Shereen Usdin, a medical doctor and public health specialist, is the co-founder of Soul City, a locally and internationally acclaimed multi-media health initiative that uses popular media to promote health and development. It reaches over 82% of the South African population and educates the public about national health and development priorities such as HIV and Aids, tuberculosis, maternal and child health, substance abuse and gender violence.
The multi-award winning initiative is one of the largest health education projects of its kind, growing into one of the country’s largest NGOs and employing over 50 people. It has shifted social norms, attitudes and behaviours related to ill health, and is responsible for assisting people in taking action to protect their health.
A Harvard graduate, Dr Usdin consults internationally on health, gender and human rights issues. She is a co-founder of ACESS, the Alliance for Children’s Entitlement to Social Security and is also a member of the Steering Committee of the SA Gender Based Violence and Health Initiative to raise awareness on the health impacts of gender violence. She helped establish the Stop Women Abuse Helpline and is the author of “The No Nonsense Guide to HIV/Aids”.
Chair judge of the Health category of the Award, Professor Somarie Grey said Dr Usdin is a most worthy winner of this category. "Amazingly humble and recognising the contributions and importance of all her team members, Dr Usdin has played a very dominant part in many of the successful Soul City initiatives.”
Ferial Haffajee, the first woman to rise to the position of editor in chief of Mail & Guardian (M&G), a previous winner of the Sanlam financial journalism award and one of The Media magazine’s Top 10 women in media in 2004, was the media and communications category winner of the 2004 Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Women of the Year Award. In the year South Africa celebrates ten years of democracy and its third non-racial elections, Ms Haffajee’s appointment to this investigative campaigning paper born during the height of the anti-apartheid struggle, is a triumph for gender equality in South Africa.
An advocate of quiet and calm leadership, Ms Haffajee now reports a two-thirds female contingency in the M&G newsroom and aims to nurture more investigate journalism in the M&G on delicate gender issues, such as the rate of rape and sexual violence in South Africa. She edits the annual directory of leading South African women; she is on the board of the World Editors Forum; chairs the South African National Editors Forum and is on the board of the International Women’s Media Foundation.
Winning the Award was an important milestone for Ms Haffajee who says that the Award has helped her to think of herself as a leader and also to realise her responsibilities to encourage young women with a passion for journalism to enter the industry and to thrive. Her advice to nominees is: “If you are hesitant about entering or about nominating; don’t be. We should not underestimate our capabilities.”
In terms of the future Ms Haffajee wants to edit a wonderful newspaper, give back to her industry and to her country and to eventually take a midlife gap year to travel and learn and love.
In 2008 she was named as young global leader of the World Economic Forum for 2008. She is also a judge of the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the year competition and serves as board member of the World Editors Forum as well as the International Women’s Media Foundation.
In 2004 Professor Tebello Nyokong, researcher of a ground-breaking cancer diagnosis and treatment, was the science and technology category winner of the Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Women of the Year Award. Professor Nyokong is researching a ground-breaking new cancer diagnosis and treatment alternative to chemotherapy, using a red laser light and the same dye used in blue denims, harmless by itself and activated with exposure to light.
She collaborated with Russian researchers to acquire a licence to commence clinical trials in South Africa for the Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), which has been approved in some countries abroad and does not destroy hair or healthy cells and does not make the person sick. The project will be a first for South Africa and the Continent.
Professor Nyokong’s outstanding achievements come as a result of changing her studies in the eleventh grade when she abandoned the arts for science, and in spite of her early childhood as a shepherd in the Free State when her family fled the Sharpeville massacre. She attributes this tremendous success in the sciences to her father’s strong leadership. While she finds being a female researcher lonely and often feels excluded from the primarily male fraternity, from her base at Rhodes University in Grahamstown Professor Nyokong continues to train highly skilled chemists – particularly women – with appropriate skills to move South Africa to the front lines of scientific development.
The Award resulted in extensive exposure for the work Prof Nyokong has been doing and since winning it she was bestowed with the Order of Mapungubwe: Bronze by the State President Mbeki in 2005, for outstanding contribution to science. She was also awarded research chair for Medicinal Chemistry and Nanotechnology by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation, starting 2007.
Her advice for nominees is: “They should take the advantage that they will receive to promote their work and to encourage other women to excel. They should act as role models for others to give selflessly to others in South Africa and beyond.”
Of her own future she says: “Now that I have the backing of the Government through the Award from the Department of Science and Technology I want to see my research to its completion. I will do less teaching and devote my time to research!”
Professor Nyokongalso currently serves as the director of DST/Mintek Nanotechnology Innovation Centre-Sensors for the development of diagnostic tools for early detection of disease such as cancer.
Cookie Edwards ,Director of the KwaZulu-Natal Network of Violence against Women, has been a Woman’s Human Rights Activist for the past twenty years and plays a major role in co coordinating activities in the province to educate and empower women on their rights. She played a major role in the New Domestic Violence Act of 1999, the setting up of the Durban Family Court and numerous public safety outreach programmes aimed at improving the fate of abused women in South Africa.
Breaking the shackles of her own marital abuse, Ms Edwards’ catalyst came in the form of abuse counselling when, rather late in life, the difference between love and abuse was explained to her for the first time. Since that day in 1989, Ms Edwards has been a compassionate ear for her community in Durban, and a voice and haven for abused women in KwaZulu-Natal. She campaigns progressively with Government and NGOs, and plays a major role in the securing of national and international funding to offer hope to abused women throughout the country.
Not only has the past 18 years seen her arrange marches and training workshops provincially, nationally and abroad against woman abuse, but her own home has served as a haven for abused women. Alongside her own three children, three previously disadvantaged girls (two foster, one adopted) have become proud young women in her home care.
Chair judge of the new Social Services category of the Award Ms Gwen Gill said Ms Edwards’ visionary qualities make her an outstanding role model. “She has an incredible energy and a broader vision which she brings to this major social issue of abuse, and after so many years of working with abused women she continues to work on a voluntary basis. Ms Edwards has overcome her own personal situation to help others, against all odds and setbacks.”
Modi Marishane-Nyaka, President of the South African Handball Federation and former Vice-President of the former South African Netball Association, is using her own experience of the once-forgotten sport of handball to revive it to one of the top sporting codes amongst the youth. Ms Marishane-Nyaka also provides national guidance to project implementers in rural and previously disadvantaged communities and facilitates drug abuse prevention programmes, focusing on at-risk-youth out of the school system for the United Nations Office on Drug Control (UNODC)
A firm believer in the uplifting role played by sport in the development of South Africa’s youth, Ms Marishane-Nyaka conducts training programmes and workshops on all-round sports involvement in rural schools nationwide to promote drug prevention therapy amongst the youth.
Under the umbrella of Rainbow Interaction SA (RISA), she has taken learners to Moscow for team-building exercises through applied sport and non-verbal communication through body language skills. RISA hosted an international Rainbow event in Cape Town in 2000.
Chair judge of the Sport category of the Award Ms Ntambi Ravele said Ms Marishane-Nyaka is a true leader in her field. “Ms Marishane-Nyaka has always gone the extra mile to promote sport. She acts over and above her duties in her position to develop women in rural areas. She has also shown a long sustainable history and is a key roleplayer in her field.”
Modi recently successfully led the SADC Handball to a Zone 6 development competition.
Three finalists have been announced in each of the five categories of the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award.
The names of the judges who will select this year's Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year, have been announced.
As the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award enters its judging phase, the winners of 2011 tell of how they are utilizing the prize money received from the Shoprite Group of Companies, to enhance their work and build a better future for the people of South Africa.
Women of the Year Office
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