By Jordan Magrobi

This year has been a fantastic time of growth for Quote This Woman+ (QW+) – in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have run media training workshops, curated a highly successful Covid-19 database, raised over R60K through crowdfunding, and have upgraded our database website. We are proud to say that we have grown our team to include Helen Aadnesgaard as a campaign manager, and have had six volunteers working throughout the year. 

The 2020 QW+ team – clockwise from top left: Renee Moodie, Jordan Magrobi, Kathy Magrobi and Helen Aadnesgaard. In this pic, we’re all dressed in blue supporting our “Not only once in a Blue Moon campaign” (more below).

Our fantastic volunteers from this year, clockwise from top left: Christina Schild, Roxy Rose, Puppet, Ruby Koter, Bev Ashworth and Siobhan Johnson

2020 has also seen our database grow from around 150 to nearly 400 members. As Covid-19 hit, we started a Covid-specific database, highlighting all experts who can talk on the various aspects of the pandemic; from schooling to vaccines, and from social grants to hospitals. This list is currently over 100 people strong, and we are still updating it. Our fortnightly media newsletters, which update the media on our latest experts, were viewed up to 900 times during the peak of the Covid pandemic. Have a listen to our  Media Diaries podcast to find out a bit more about the behind-the- scenes work that went into our response to the pandemic.

This year, despite resource constraints, QW+ was able to offer two free media training sessions to members of our database. The first was a media training masterclass created in collaboration with journalist and database member Pontsho Pilane

The second focussed specifically on how to handle difficult media interviews. Along with ex-journalist Renee Moodie, QW+ director Kathy Magrobi helped each participant talk through specific scenarios they’d faced, and plan for how they’d handle them differently in the future. 

If you are reading this and are interested in individual or group media training, do get hold of us for more information! 

QW+ also assisted a group of women+ science and health experts with a presentation and Zoom communication masterclass, specifically relating to communicating Covid to ordinary audiences. So often, experts in all fields do not have the time to remember the basic fundamentals of good communication. Running communications courses like this is one of the ways that QW+ earns income.

We are also proud to share that 12 members of the QW+ database made it into the Mail & Guardian’s 2020 50 Powerful Women in South Africa. Congratulations to Dr Shakira Choonara, Dr Glenda Davison, Lauren Hermanus, Nomahlubi Jakuja, Safura Abdool Karim, Dorah Marema, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, Dr Hlengiwe Ndlovu, Nokuzola Ndwandwe, Mahlatse Nkuna, Laurel Oettle and Carla Watson!

Lastly in database news: QW+, in collaboration with Media Hack, has ensured that our database is hosted in a more user-friendly format. It is now available on its own searchable website, a real upgrade from the online spreadsheet which we previously used. For access to the new database, send us a message

QW+ has run a number of  campaigns around gender in 2020. Firstly we celebrated Women’s Month with a special edition of our media updates, focussing only on experts who can comment on gender. We also started what will hopefully become an annual occasion: wearing blue in support of gender equality in the media. Inspired by the fact that women shouldn’t be heard once in a blue moon, we encouraged people to wear blue and donate to QW+. More recently, we have just finished a campaign about 16 Days of Activism against Violence Against Women. Every day for the 16 days, we have been highlighting a new expert who can talk on gender-based violence. And throughout the year, we have been highlighting gender issues on our social media platforms and in newsletters. 

We are so grateful to all those who donated to or shared our fundraising campaign. With the help of our donors, we raised a whopping R62 863.43. This means we have the capacity to carry on doing our work into 2021 – to continue our fight against binary and one-sided reporting and fake news. As part of our fundraising, we hosted our first storytelling event where five fantastic women shared their stories about finding their voices with the audience. We had a fantastic time, and hope to be hosting something similar in 2021, so watch this space. 

Thank you from some of the people behind QW+! 

QW+ has had the immense honour of inducting three new women into our board: Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, sexual health expert and a UNHRC Special Rapporteur, Juanita Williams, the Managing Editor at AllAfrica Global Media, and Lerato Mashianoke, Program Assistant at the Ford Foundation. We are thrilled to have them as a part of the team which guides and advises our organisation. 

QW+ is also enormously grateful for the continuing support from our main funder, the South African Media Innovation Programme. In addition to the financial aid, the moral support we have had has been invaluable. We’re especially grateful to Murray Hunter, our point person from SAMIP who has been the de-facto 5th member of our core team.

It’s been a long year, with many challenges. But we got through it. And we’re so proud of where we are. It’s taken much mutual support, many Zoom calls (video on, waving hello and sharing smiles, laughs, curses, even tears) and many cups of tea. We’re really looking forward to making 2021 an even bigger year for QW+. One where women’s voices matter more than ever before. 

Jordan Magrobi runs the QW+ database

Main picture: Some of the participants in the first masterclass.