Between book covers with a top 66

Former Miss South Africa Joan Madibeng and Prof Rozena Maart have launched a coffee-table book which celebrates 66 remarkable women.

Titled Women Who Build a Better Future for South Africa — Sixty-Six Years Later, the book salutes women who have continued to hold a torch despite the challenges facing the country.

It was launched last Friday at a stylish event that took place in Sandhurst, Johannesburg.

The 66 women in the book come from various fields such as architecture, business and media.

They are entrepreneurs, human rights activists, academics, chartered accountants, engineers, chief executive officers, medical experts, educators and marine supervisors — people such as Basetsana Kumalo, Peggy-Sue Khumalo, LeAnne Dlamini, Imani Rappetti, Nwabisa Makunga, Boitumelo Semete, Amanda Dambuza, Nompendulo Mkatshwa and Olwethu Leshabane among many others. The book is published by Arena Holdings.

According to the duo, the project took three years to complete. It was born out of a discussion on the role of women in SA who did not get the recognition they deserve.

“In this collection the women contributors share their journey with us, the hardships they have endured, the difficulties they lived through during apartheid, the resilience with which they fought.

We want to make sure SA never forgets where we all come from, and envision along with us, where we are going,” they say in the book.

Maart, an author and research ambassador to the University of Bremen in Germany, said: “When we met we immediately spoke about the relations we have with the women of our country. We realised that our celebrations of Women’s Day did not include such women that we spent hours talking about. We contacted women around the country to come up with 66 names that will hold the torch of the women of 1956.

“Not only did the stories leave us with goose bumps but made us feel that we were the luckiest to have decided to do this because our history books are filled with history about apartheid, coloniality and 400 years of struggle. We don’t want to forget that history and we want to continue to remember it through you, through your struggles and pursuits.”

Madibeng, a businesswoman and founder of Madibeng Foundation, said: “This book is proof of our commitment to our goals and it showcases the stories of 66 incredible women who are doing extraordinary things. That inspiration is desperately needed when you think of all the negative things that happen in our country, particularly to our women and children.”

Lyndon Barends of Arena Holdings said it had been an easy decision to work with the women behind the book. “We thought we can also help and play a role. The 66 of you who are part of the book, do not be misled. You only a small part of the movement. You are a miniscule representation of many women out there doing great work and we salute you.” — sowetan

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