“Press women’s voices against a loud hailer”

These words written by Koleka Putema reverberated strongly amongst the +180 power females, who had come together to celebrate the lauch of VOICES at TAJ Cape Town on Thursday evening. Koleka, an award winning Slam Poet, wrote a poem specifcially for the launch with a power that had all of us experiencing goosebumps of brilliance in capturing the essence of female empowerment.


The launch was well attended with a great diversity of age, colour and culture which was refreshing to witness in Cape Town. We were offered superb complimentary wine by the impressive Cavalli Estate, and delicious canapes were circulated by the TAJ staff, who consistently exude professionalism.

Female Comedian Mel Jones MC’d the event with expertise and kept the audience smiling and light hearted throughout the evening.

The line up of power speakers was certainly not to be sniffed at, opening with VOICES Co-Director for Johannesburg, Catherine Grenfell, 5fm radio celebrity presenter, who advised that herself and Sureshnie Rider will be heading up the Joburg Club when it launches on October 1st , joining Shelley Webb as the Directors of VOICES group. Cath shared with the audience a very personal insight into her life and the male-dominated industry of radio that she entered many years ago “I’ve always been real. You get so many fake women out there. Women connected with me because I wasn’t fake” she recalls.

Koleka Putuma, the 22 yr old spoke about her discovery of writing poetry in high school and how she’s taught herself to embrace her potential “We shouldn’t be shy to own what we’ve worked for” as she announced herself as an Award Winning Poet and Director.

Georgina Haywood was introduced next – the 100 year old lady who has recently been in the worldwide press following her Birthday celebrations of Skydiving and Shark Cage Diving. Ms. Haywood is the epitome of ‘it’s never too late for adventure’ and opened her talk by informing the audience that she’s still in complete control of her kidney movements, this raised a laugh from those watching in awe. She stated “In my day we had very limited career choices” (before women could even vote). “I could either be a nurse, a teacher, or a secretary,” Georgina chose to be a housewife and carer all her life and commented “women are first and foremost carers – which is why we make the best managers”. She left us with an inspiring message “In my day women didn’t have many opportunities but you girls can become anything you want”

Her daughter, 68-year-old Sue Homer, shared some of Georgina’s secrets: She’s 100% relevant, she exercises daily, swims every day in summer, sleeps regularly, breathes properly and still looks after her own house, where she lives unassisted. She also teaches bridge every week, which Georgina thinks is why she’s still got her wits about her.

There was an exception to the all-female line-up, with Jonas Jonasson up next, who was visiting Cape Town over the time of the Launch and couldn’t resist coming to meet Georgina Haywood, the 100 yr old woman considering his bestselling book ‘The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared’ has sold over 11 million copies world wide. He’s also just recently released his new book ‘The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden’, which is focused on a girl from Soweto.

Jonasson promptly apologized for being a man and stated “Today I call myself a feminist”. Having been born and living in Sweden he shared his insights of gender equality in Sweden and how it is the best in the world but with still more to do. He described how he has continuously witnessed “Men in Sweden recruiting split images of themselves, but what would be better is if 50% of top positions were held by women” he went on to add that he wishes for companies to become ‘half half’ and not ‘same same’. During the break we were able to purchase a book personally signed by Jonas himself.

Pip Goring was introduced next. South African born, now living in England and running Wiston Estate in the South Downs, recounted her story of passion and patience in her dream of planting and growing her own vineyard. Her patience and prayers paid off, and she now produces a gold multi-award winning sparkling wine which Her Royal Highness the Queen of England chose to launch the world’s largest and most prestigious ship, the Britannia “keep your dreams and fight for them” she advised, – patience and 10 grandchildren later Pip is still, if not more, passionate about her dream. We were served a glass of the delicious 2011 Vintage Wiston Rose which Pip toasted to the landing of her British Bubbly onto South African shores just the day before! Pip also added that Keira Knightly celebrated the birth of her new baby with a bottle of Wiston.

Lynette Hundermark, co-founder of Useful and Beautiful, spoke to the power female audience about her entry into the tech and mobile industry and the internal struggle she experienced in returning to work after having children. She remarked “It’s not a balance, it’s about integration” and inspired us to work towards our own vision.

Casey Rousseau from First for Women gave an interesting talk, as did Lauren Gibson from Dermalogica and the FITE foundation which stands for Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship. Guests could give cash donations at the door towards this incredible initiative which assists female entrepreneurs with fulfilling their working dreams of starting their own business.

It was an incredibly inspiring evening and we left with much food for thought and an inner glow of strength and empowerment from being surrounded by such an extraordinary and powerful group.


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