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The Fight for Rights: Five Gains and Five Losses for Women in 2018



While Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive this year and Ethiopia appointed its first female president, in other countries in 2018 women were punished for being raped or wanting control of their reproductive rights.

Here are some gains and losses for women around the world in the past year:


1. Ireland in May voted to repeal its strict abortion laws in a landslide victory. Nearly half of an estimated 56 million abortions conducted each year are unsafe, leading to the deaths of at least 22,800 women, according to a global March report by the Guttmacher Institute.

2. Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive for the first time in June. But dozens of activists who campaigned for the right to drive and the end of male guardianship were detained soon after the ban was lifted.

3. Ethiopia elected its first female president Sahle-Work Zewde in October, and appointed Meaza Ashenafi to be its first female supreme court president a month later. Ethiopia became the third country in Africa – after Rwanda and Seychelles – to have its cabinet split equally between men and women.

4. Iceland in January become the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women, introducing fines on any company or government agency with over 25 staff without a government certificate demonstrating pay equality.

5. The #MeToo movement, sparked by revelations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood, swept through workplaces worldwide in 2018, spawning investigations and toppling hundreds of high-profile men from positions of power. In parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia, however, the campaign has struggled to gain momentum.


1. Argentina in August rejected a move to legalize abortion. Uruguay and Cuba are the only Latin American countries that now have broadly legalized abortion.

2. U.S. President Donald Trump in May issued a proposal that would effectively stop giving government funds to subsidize birth control and abortions. The so-called global gag rule has put more than $8 billion of annual funding at risk, from clinics for HIV-affected sex workers in Ethiopia to programs aimed at curbing teen pregnancy in remote Uganda, campaigners have warned.

3. Kenyan lawmakers in November blocked a push to give one in three parliamentary seats to women.

4. In December, on the sixth anniversary of a fatal gang rape in New Delhi that prompted global outrage, a security guard was arrested after the rape a three-year-old girl, accused of luring her with sweets.

5. A 19-year-old Sudanese woman, Noura Hussein, who was a child bride, was sentenced to death in May when she killed her husband after he tried to rape her. Hussein’s sentence was overturned after global outrage, but she was still sentenced to five years in jail. -Reuters

– Lin Taylor


‘Don’t Be Afraid To Bend The Rules’ – Miss Universe



In December, Zozibini Tunzi made South Africa – still euphoric after the rugby world cup win – proud again by winning the Miss Universe pageant in Atlanta. She also campaigns against gender-based violence and believes the world is ready to embrace a different narrative of beauty.

From the quiet village of Tsolo in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa to the catwalks of the world, Zozibini Tunzi is the newly-minted Miss Universe, the first black South African to win the global pageant. In this interview FORBES AFRICA conducted with her before her historic win, while she was still Miss South Africa, she conveys the struggles of being a woman in her home country.

What does it mean for you to carry the title of Miss South Africa?

South Africa is a democratic country; that means it [must] not discriminate against anyone, it should give everyone living in it equal opportunity. The reality is that being a woman in South Africa is still a struggle. We have come so far from the Stone Age and a lot has changed but more can still be done. We find that women are still trying to shatter the glass ceiling and I hope one day we won’t have to do that.

It means that I am a representation of South African women. I want women and young girls to look at me and see their faces reflected in mine.

What is the one thing you would like to change about the beauty industry?

For the longest time, the assumption of beauty has been one-dimensional and westernized. There hadn’t been a wide range of representation in the beauty industry for women. It has taken a while for the world to recognize being African as beautiful. We are now slowly moving into a space where black and being curvy is also beautiful just at it has always been. It needs to change at a faster pace. I’m hopeful that we will soon get there.

Any anecdotes from the New York Fashion Week you attended ?

It was one of the greatest highlights of my Miss South Africa journey. What people may not know is that I have no background in modeling, so for me to do a fashion show at that level, was mind-blowing. I remember seeing the models I knew from America’s Next Top Model and thinking, ‘geez, Zozi, you’re really here doing this’. I am forever grateful to have been able to experience that, especially with South African designers.

Who are some of your role models?

Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Harriet Tubman. What these women have in common is their ability to be very firm in what they believe in. They are fighters and they are fearless.

What are some of the values you live by?

Humility, kindness and respect. They are the core of everything I live by.

What message would you like to leave young African women inspired by you?

My message to them is to never compromise on who they are and what they believe in. They should not be afraid to bend the rules even if just a little. All the greats in the world have had to fight for what they believe in so we shouldn’t be scared to do it too.

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Get Set Mo!



Morongoa Mahope feeds her love for extreme biking with petrol and adrenaline. The funds for her pet passion come from her nine-to-five accounting job.

About 10kms north of the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa is another racetrack, where superbikes and sports cars are noisily revving up their engines, getting ready for a practice run on a cold Wednesday afternoon in Johannesburg.

At first glance at the Zwartkops racetrack is a melange of male drivers and mechanics.

But also revving up a superbike, the one numbered 83, is Morongoa Mahope from Mahwelereng in the Limpopo province of South Africa.

READ MORE: ‘From Zero to Hero’: The Queen Of The 800 meters Caster Semenya

She is about to clock 270kmph on her black bike, tagged #Mo83 in pink.

When she is not burning rubber on the racetrack, Mahope is an accountant working for an advertising agency in the city.

“When I started [superbiking], it was mainly only for leisure because I love the sound bikes and cars make. I’m a petrol head and just wanted it to commute to work,” she says.

Morongoa Mahope

Her journey started in 2013 when she convinced her husband and family about buying a superbike. Her family was initially apprehensive and viewed superbike racing as dangerous.

Her husband finally relented and Mahope went for a day’s training to see if she really would be interested in the bike before investing in it. The 36-year-old sports fanatic succumbed, and indeed pursued her wish.

“I still have my first bike; it’s a green and black Kawasaki Ninja 250cc. I was just using it to [go to] work until I met a biking club, the Eagle Bikers Club Limpopo,” she recalls.

Mahope was riding with the club, doing breakfast runs between Johannesburg and Limpopo; but, in 2015, they took a trip to Nelspruit in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.

READ MORE: Making Up For Millions

Navigating the mountainous, curvy roads, Mahope was overtaking men with her small 250cc bike at the bends.

She was then goaded by her fellow riders to try the racing circuit.

“I went to the track and met a superbike racer; Themba Khumalo, and I started following his journey. I spent more time on the track, practising so I could start racing in 2016. The love for the sport was getting deeper and deeper,” says Mahope.

Khumalo, a professional superbike rider who has raced in the European Championships, says he met Mahope at Zwartkops and it was her first time at the track, and she was quite fast at the corners.

He went up to her to introduce himself because it was rare to see a black woman on a racetrack.

READ MORE: Higher Revenues And Greater Optimism: Female-Owned Small Businesses Are Gaining Ground

“I then took her through the fundamentals of racing and the basics; the type of bike she would need and the equipment. I could see how committed she was and how quick she was learning, and her lack of fear. She was going farther than where she was,” says Khumalo.  

However, her male counterparts were not impressed with her pace on the track; they remarked negatively about her. But Mahope didn’t let the minimizing comments derail her mission.

Unfortunately, Mahope was involved in an accident during training on Valentine’s Day in 2017 and fractured her clavicle before her first race. That took her off the bike for six months.

She joked about the incident with friends, but they persisted and told her it’s an unsafe sport. That encouraged her even more; she wore her helmet and gloves, clocking higher speeds than ever before on her superbike.

Indeed, it was a learning curve. A few months later, she was invited to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe to race.

READ MORE: Shopping for ideas

Her first official race was the same year as the injury; it was a club race in Delmas, Mpumalanga, at the Red Star Raceway. She had never been on the grid nor practised how to stud, but for her, it was more about the experience despite the shivers and nerves.

“I finished the race and I was second last. It’s part of how you start but you will improve to be better. And now, I have lost count of the races I have competed in,” she says.

Mahope is racing in the short circuit series for women who use the 250cc, being the only black woman to participate. She also participated in the Extreme Festival tour series, a regional race in which she used her Kawasaki Ninja ZX600cc, racing men with bigger and louder bikes.

“I am the first black woman to be in the grand prix and the challenges that I faced were having to teach myself a lot of things. I had to learn how to ride on the track, the speed, the decelerating, all was new to me. I wasn’t helped.”

Mahope started at a late stage with the sport, and had to put in more time and effort in a short period to get to where she is currently.

READ MORE: Linda Ikeji : Nigeria’s Queen of content raking in millions

Today, she assists women who are starting with the sport.  

Sadly, in South Africa, there is no national league for women to race and represent the country despite finishing in the top three in the 2019 races.

With all her achievements thus far, Mahope’s salary sustains her motorsport passion.

“Racing is very expensive; the more you practise, the more you get better and the more you spend money. On practice day, I spend about R3,000 ($206) and would practise twice a week at different tracks. In total, I would spend R18,000 ($1,235) a month for the track excluding the travel costs to the track and race day,” she explains.These costs cover tyres, fuel and entrance to the tracks.

A sum of about R40,000 ($2,744) can get you geared up for the bike and track.

It just shows this daredevil accountant can balance both the books and the bike.

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Africa’s Most Dynamic Thought-Leaders, Industry Game-Changers And Icons Of Social Activism Set To Feature At The Exclusive FORBES WOMAN AFRICA 2020 Leading Women Summit



Africa’s most dynamic thought-leaders, industry game-changers and icons of social activism are set to feature at the exclusive FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit presented by Mastercard (#LWS2020KZN) and hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal government – taking place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC Complex in Durban on Friday, 6 March 2020.

For the 5th edition of this globally-renowned event, panellists and speakers will engage with the impactful 2020 theme, ‘The Ceiling Crashers 2.0: Power with Purpose’. The day’s thought-provoking discussions will be followed by the highly-anticipated FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Awards Gala Dinner which celebrates the continent’s most influential female ‘ceiling crashers’ across a number of key categories. 

“The FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit has grown to become one of the biggest female-empowerment events, boasting a high calibre of attendees and unparalleled speaker line-up,” said Renuka Methil, Managing Editor of FORBES WOMAN AFRICA.

“This promises to be the biggest instalment yet, featuring female pioneers and path-breakers across the continent. Audiences will be exposed to dynamic discussions about the growing the number of women in leadership – something government and business really need to factor into their strategies. We will also get to grips with a new discourse that focuses on dismantling power structures and the need for truly inclusive cultures in business and society.”

This highly-anticipated event, which is hosted annually in honour of International Women’s Day, is expected to draw an audience of around 1 000 leading women. Through hard-hitting talks, fireside chats and insightful panel sessions centred on ‘ceiling crashers’, attendees will be inspired to make meaningful changes within their own industries, secure in the knowledge that they have the support of these innovative allies. This year’s programme promises an influential mix of leaders in healthcare and business; advocates of social and environmental activism; award-winning artists and internationally-renowned stateswomen.

For the first time, FORBES WOMAN AFRICA will be releasing its own list of ‘Africa’s Most Powerful Women’, many of whom will be attending the summit. The list will be published in the March issue of the magazine, outlining those who have been leading ideas and industries while purposefully contributing to nation-building and positively impacting the lives around them.

The FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Awards Gala Dinner, which is hosted the evening of the summit, is an opportunity to recognise the trailblazers and role models who have created a new narrative within their industries. By challenging authority and ‘old school’ traditions, they are enabling future generations to live in a better and more equal world.

Beatrice Cornacchia, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Mastercard Middle East and Africa, said: “African women are a vital source of innovation, prosperity, and economic growth. Yet inequality and exclusion still hold women back in many aspects of their everyday lives – from growing their businesses to having the financial tools to participate in the formal economy; from joining the C-Suite to following their passions. We are proud to partner with FORBES WOMAN AFRICA as we believe that it is only by bringing diverse perspectives to the table that we can unlock Africa’s possibilities to women.”

Managing Director of the ABN Group, Roberta Naicker, said the organisation was excited that the KwaZulu-Natal government would, once again, play host to this illustrious event, which serves to highlight the continent’s most influential female leaders while also shining a spotlight on this beautiful region. “A summit of this calibre showcases that KZN is being positioned as a world-class events’ destination. We are excited to have renowned speakers and attendees will get the opportunity to engage on hard-hitting issues during the summit, while also affording them the chance to enjoy the many recreational tourism sites and activities for which KZN is renowned.”

Tickets to the exclusive 2020 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit and Gala Dinner are available at a cost of R3499, available through Webtickets ( Tickets are limited and interested parties are urged to book early to avoid disappointment. There are also select opportunities to get involved with the event sponsorship, exhibiting at the on-site marketplace or by sponsoring a mentee. Please visit website for further details.

The 2020 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit is presented by Mastercard (@MastercardMEA) and hosted by KZN Provincial Government (@KZNgov). Keep updated on all the latest news and announcements on Twitter @LWSummit and join the conversation using the hashtags #LWS2020KZN #DOKZN.

Contact details:

Office: +27 (11) 384 0300

Sponsorship and exhibition opportunities: [email protected]

Media partnerships and press accreditation: [email protected]

Event-related queries: [email protected]

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