The Sunday Times dedicated its edition on the 23rd of May 2010 to both powerful and ordinary women doing great work for the economy and in their communities. It focused on a diverse range of issues including South African work culture, political and business leadership, as well as innovators in education and the arts.
This edition highlights the crucial contributions made by many women in all kinds of fields, despite the fact that their efforts often go unsung with many continuing to face traditional stereotypes and other challenges. Media often waits for landmark celebrations like Women’s Day to highlight women and their successes in this way. But The Sunday Times didn’t wait for such an event for this edition According to the editorial team, as one of the leading newspapers in the country, they have adopted a policy of giving precedence to women’s articles, portraying them in a positive manner and highlighting their leadership qualities.
What made this particular edition of the newspaper stand out from previous ones is that there were articles about women in every section. These articles appeared on the main bulletin pages, the editor’s page, the Review and, Newsmaker sections, the careers page as well in the arts and entertainment section.
On the editor’s page, Fred Khumalo choose to outline the history of one of the most prolific yet largely unsung South African heroines, Graca Machel. In his article (“Raise a Glass to a Great Dame”, 23/05/2010, p.2) he analysed her life from humble beginnings to becoming an accomplished educator, politician and human rights leader and how she stands as a role model, not only women but to every citizen.
In the Newsmaker section in “Busa: All together now” (23/05/2010, p. 6) Chris Barron interviews and analyses the rise of Futhi Mtoba, the new BUSA president and highlights the challenges faced by black women in economic leadership roles, like being taken seriously by male peers and facing racial stereotyping. Her success in becoming the first Black Chartered Accountant to make Partner in the international firm Deloittes shows that determination pays off!
Also on the “Newsmaker” page, Adele Shevel talks to Wiphold CEO, Louisa Mojela. In an article entitled “Be in charge of your career, life.”(23.05.2010 p. 6) she highlights how Mojela and her female colleagues joined forces to start a women’s business group whilst holding down full time jobs elsewhere. The article details how the women’s hard work has paid off, with their company now listed on the JSE. It also highlights how beginning a business is not for the fainthearted.
The Review pages of the Sunday Times saw David Pincus interviewing Ariella Kuper, one of the few women auctioneers in South. Educated in Italy, Ariella chose to return to South Africa to realise her dream that the auctioneering industry give back to charity. In another article “It all adds up for young maths whizz” (23/05/2010, p. 9), Karen Van Rooyen writes an inspirational piece about Miranda Nyathi, an 18 year old girl who has defied many stereotypes. She took over teaching a Maths class when she was still in High school and has since gone on to help develop a DVD in Xhosa, to be used as a Maths aid for grade 12 learners.
On the Careers page Margaret Harris talked to Brenda Tshabala from the African Romance company, the world’s only black woman to operate a diamond laser machine. The article highlights how people can empower themselves and defy prejudice and be true to their trade.
Finally on the Arts and Entertainment page, Mariaane Thamm talked to comedian Shimmy Isaacs in “Shimmy shake – with laughter” (23/05/2010, p. 13) about her success as a comedian and the challenges she faces in this male dominated industry.
All of these articles positively portray women, with each one given an opportunity to tell their own story, and detail their successes and their challenges. The articles afforded the reader an opportunity to find out about a wide range of female role models, who are not simply successful and savvy, but are also shown as caring individuals with a balanced approach to their work. Well done to the Sunday Times team for dedicating this edition to women. MMA hopes it will keep up the good work, and serve as an example to other newspapers on the benefits of positive reporting and the need to break down stereotypes.
By Zandile Ndlovu