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Time to celebrate the heroism of SA women



As we step into Women’s Month and the very last chance to nominate for the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards, we celebrate the power and bravery of South African women.

Women are so often unsung heroes as they quietly get on with what they have to do, whether it’s running companies, saving lives, bringing up children, or a combination of these and others.

The Absa Jewish Achiever Awards has honoured women in leadership since 2015, ensuring that we recognise women in our community who have made a real difference as leaders.

These women are role models and, in most cases, they had a tougher rise to the top than their male counterparts because the leadership world isn’t close to being an equal playing field. At this point, less than 10% of executives on JSE-listed companies are women.

“Women have been reared to be nurturers and caregivers, but in the process, they often don’t feel entitled to recognise their own needs and ambitions,” says clinical and organisational psychologist Dorianne Weil, who is one of the judges of the Europcar Women in Leadership Award.

Because of this, Weil says, it’s vitally important to recognise women who have stepped into their power, women who have understood that they need “to take care of the needs of their husband’s wife and their children’s mother”.

Weil longs for the day when we no longer need to have an award specifically for women because there’s complete egalitarianism, however that day is yet to come.

“So, we seek out those formidable women who have risen to the top and coped with lots of obstacles and set the bar higher and higher,” Weil says. “Our women in leadership are the epitome of possibility, and act as an inspiration for those to follow.”

Former Europcar Chief Executive Dawn Nathan-Jones was behind her company originally sponsoring this award when it was launched saying, “I’ve been nominated twice for a Jewish Achiever award for leadership of a listed company and both times, I was the only woman in the running. It occurred to me that women weren’t putting themselves forward for this, nor were they being noticed. I wanted to give women a platform to be noticed for what they do.

“I wanted to give women leaders the self-assurance they deserve and a sense of confidence. This award has done just that for its winners,” Nathan-Jones says.

In the past eight years as a judge for the Europcar Women in Leadership Award, Nathan-Jones says she has been “blown away” by the calibre of women nominated, and how people don’t know who they are or what they have achieved.

“I’ve seen the strength and resilience of women, and how they achieve as leaders against all odds,” she says.

“Women so often go under the radar, but they don’t give up, stay out of politics, and are action oriented.”

She says she keeps thinking that every year, they will run out of women nominees and every year without fail, the numbers of nominations increase and the women nominated are even more impressive.

“The winners are powerhouses in their own way. They don’t make a big noise and they aren’t looking for accolades, which is why it is so satisfying to bring them to the fore and recognise them,” she says.

Some of the women we have honoured in the Europcar Women in Leadership Award are:

  • Judge Sharise Weiner (2016). Weiner is now a judge on the Supreme Court of Appeal, the second highest court in the country. She told the SA Jewish Report that when she was selected for the position, it was “satisfying knowing that I’ve shattered a few glass ceilings and all my years of experience have been recognised”.
  • Professor Bonita Meyersfeld (2018). Meyersfeld was honoured for her efforts to promote human rights and fight gender-based violence. She’s a human right’s lawyer, activist, and academic and was also named a Knight of the Order of Merit by the president of France for her work.
  • Advocate Carol Steinberg (2022). Steinberg won the award after arguing before the Constitutional Court in the Bongani Masuku antisemitic hate-speech case and winning. Steinberg said on winning the award, “You can’t moan from the sidelines. Put on your armour, and try and do what’s right.”

Nominations close at 17:00 on 4 August, so if you haven’t nominated that woman you know deserves to win the Europcar Woman in Leadership Award, do it now. Go to:

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Matshidiso Anna Mohale

    Oct 24, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    I support the nomination of Jewish woman as I’m also a woman. Viva Jewish women viva, I love you my people

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