Women Change-Makers in South Africa: Women uplifting South Africa – A TributeYolandaAD
In a world facing escalating environmental challenges, the efforts of remarkable individuals are increasingly vital. South Africa, a country known for its rich biodiversity and complex social landscape, has been fortunate to witness the rise of exceptional women who have dedicated their lives to philanthropy and sustainability. These women serve as beacons of hope, demonstrating that with dedication, innovation, and compassion, positive change can be achieved on both environmental and societal fronts.
In this article, we shine a light on a few influential women in South Africa who have earned recognition for their admirable contributions to environmental preservation and sustainable development. The five change leaders presented below (in no particular order) are only a handful of some of the influential women in South Africa that we celebrate this Women’s Month.
1. Lebo Molefe: Air Quality & Climate Change
Lebo Molefe is the Director of Air Quality and Climate Change in the Environment and Infrastructure Department at the City of Johannesburg. With over 19 years of experience in the environmental sustainability field, she is dedicated to advancing the city’s climate resilience and sustainability initiatives. Molefe plays a pivotal role in shaping the city’s efforts towards net-zero emissions and climate resilience by 2050. Under her leadership, the City of Johannesburg is actively working on its Climate Action Plan (CAP), which outlines strategies and measures to address climate change challenges. Her commitment to environmental sustainability and climate action is evident in her role’s responsibilities and her contributions to the city’s ambitious goals, aiming to secure a more sustainable and resilient future for Johannesburg and its residents.
2. Catherine Constantinides: Empowering Youth for Change
A true force for change, Catherine Constantinides is a South African environmental activist, humanitarian, and youth leader. As the Executive Director of Miss Earth South Africa and co-founder of Generation Earth, Constantinides has harnessed the power of youth to drive environmental awareness and sustainable action. Her initiatives focus on promoting green education, empowering women, and advocating for responsible consumption. Recognized for her dedication, she has received numerous awards, including the Guardian Greening The Future Award and the Youth Diplomacy Award.
3. Dorah Marema: Women for Climate Justice
Dorah Marema is one of the co-founders of GenderCC Southern Africa, an organization which works with women and activists for women’s rights, gender equality and climate justice in Southern Africa. Marema is the co-founder and director of Green Business College, which is a college dedicated to educating entrepreneurs on ‘green’ skills with business know-how. She was also the Executive Director of the GreenHouse Project and worked on many other green economy projects. In 2015, Marema received an award from the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change’s Women and Gender Constituency.
4. Lindiwe Sibanda: Food Security and Advocacy
Lindiwe Sibanda has made significant strides in the realm of food security and agricultural policy. As the CEO and head of mission of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), Sibanda champions sustainable agricultural practices and policies across Africa. Her commitment to addressing hunger, poverty, and gender inequality in rural communities has earned her awards such as the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa and the Yara 2013 Prize Laureate for youth entrepreneurship and policy advocacy.
5. Judy Sikuza: Empowering African Leaders
As the CEO of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, Judy Sikuza continues to uphold the legacy of Nelson Mandela through initiatives that empower African leaders and address pressing social and environmental challenges. Her work exemplifies the intersection of philanthropy, sustainability, and social justice. Sikuza encourages learning and believes in the power of education and leadership to empower leaders and create more humane futures.
These South African women are great examples of how individuals can create meaningful impacts in the fields of philanthropy, sustainability, and environmental conservation. Through their visionary leadership, dedication, and innovative approaches, they inspire not only their fellow South African women but also the global community to work towards a more equitable and sustainable future.
As we celebrate their achievements, let us also remember that each one of us has the power to contribute to positive change, no matter how big or small our efforts may seem.
About the Author:
Yolanda Gossel is the Founder and Programme Director at Five Tulips, a South African based sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI) consultancy. Five Tulips forges partnerships between communities, public and private sectors and individuals for social upliftment and preservation of our planets resources and ecosystems.
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