This vision started for me on an early Spring
day in 1999 at a conference aiming to empower women in business.
heard such powerful and moving stories from South African women
- women sharing their life stories with confidence, and by
doing so, inspiring all those who had the privilege of listening
I realised that these stories belonged to all the women of
South Africa and so the idea of a book was born. Storytelling
all an African tradition, and one of the most effective ways
of passing the message on.
Inspirational Women at Work was inspired by women in our
country and across the world who touched my heart and my
whom I had the privilege of working with, sharing time and
and whose stories, thoughts and actions enriched my life.
I became aware of the importance of telling the stories of
women: extraordinary women, women like you and me, women
who make a difference,
women who persevere, women who get things done, women who
are influential, women who are strong, women who care, women
hurt, women who
suffer, women who live a life worth living - for themselves
and others - and above all women who have made it on this
the shadows in their own lives.
The reason I think it is important to tell the stories of
these women is to inspire, empower and inform everybody who
this book, to help make a positive difference to the lives
in our world, to give a voice to the role models of our country,
to celebrate achievement and to inspire others to act. The
importance of sharing your story is emphasised by Mrs Albertina
who said, "We are required to walk our own road - and then
stop, assess what we have learnt and share it with others. It
in this way that the next generation can learn from those who
have walked before them... We can do no more than tell our story.
must do with it what they will."
Inspirational Women at Work offers background information
on how many ordinary and prominent South African women got
they are today. It highlights their determination, perseverance
and uniquely individual characters that helped them to achieve
in whatever field they chose. The women featured in this
publication are all South African achievers in their own
right, with whom
I think readers will be able to identify, and who are making
in the lives of other women and to South Africa as a whole.
All of them have in common the tenacity, caring and optimism
enabled them to succeed in raising families, delivering in
their professions and being committed to success. It is these
that build this country and make the world a better place.
They represent a cross section of South African women in
geography, age, cultural background, business experience
All of these women have had to make sacrifices to meet the
along their diverse paths to making a difference and being
successful. Each has invented her own path to success by
drawing on the unique
resources available to her, including natural talents, passions,
values, cultural heritage and individual approaches to business
and life. They share information about overcoming challenges
in business and in life as well as their soaring accomplishments,
openly crediting those who helped them make it to the top.
is provided into why they have been successful, along with
personal and professional strategies that are generously
shared with the
In the selection process it was important to me to include
not only immediately recognisable, high profile women, but
unassumingly making a difference in their communities. My
original proposal consisting of thirty women quickly grew
to over fifty
and it was only through a firm promise from the publishers
that we could start working on Inspirational Women at Work
I stopped feeling that we are doing an injustice to the readers
by not including many more women who have a story to tell.
Finally I would like to conclude with the following words,
taken from Mamphela Ramphele's A Life: "If this story helps to
make women feel good about who they are, and turns what is seen
abnormal for women into everyday practice, then I would have
been able to intimate another female destiny - a destiny worth
and dying for. But greater will be my joy when the sons and daughters
of South Africa see this alternative female destiny as mainstream
and desirable. Only then shall we be truly free to reach for
I firmly believe all women can make a difference - in their
own way, using their own resources. In this way a profound
can be made - to our country, our continent and the world.
Making this book work / or you - contributions / workbook
It is important to take note that a deliberate decision
was taken by the compiler and publisher to allow the authentic
the individual contributors, the women who used this opportunity
to share their personal and life experiences with you and
not to rewrite or edit the text submitted to us into one
of writing. The result is a creative and interesting piece
of work that includes the authentic voices of more than
share as much as they wish to, in the way they want to
and using the words they choose to.
We challenge you to enjoy reading the shared experiences,
to use the opportunity to learn from the information
offered, be inspired
by the creative ideas and to try and make some of them
your own by practical application in your own life. We
that you use the opportunity created by the workbook
pages in each chapter to develop life and professional
the questions and setting specific goals. Finally we
invite you to make use of the resources added at the end
you are interested in reading more about the general
theme chosen for that chapter or contributor featured in
free to contact Knowledge Resources who have committed
themselves to making available and distributing these
you wherever you are in this country or across the world.
I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this book as much
as I enjoyed compiling it.