Dr Zakeera Docrat, Dr Lorato Mokwena, Kath Magrobi, Vusi Vokwana, Ambassador Anne Lammila, Kolisa Sinyaya, Thandile Chinyavanhu, Nosintu Kwepile and René Sparks gather after the ceremony. Photo by Ivory Collins.
On March 15th, 2023, the Finnish Embassy of South Africa and Quote This Woman+ hosted the Voices of the Year awards ceremony to celebrate the category winners and overall champion of the competition. The ceremony was a heartwarming occasion, inspiring attendees to keep doing the important work of promoting diversity and representation in the media.
The event was kicked off with a speech from Finnish Ambassador to South Africa, Anne Lammila, who reflected on the role of women in the media in Finland. She explained their impressive women-dominated political coverage and highlighted the stark difference to the South African reality, where less than 20 percent of sources quoted in the news are women. “Together with you all, we wish to change that for the better,” she said.
Ferial Haffajee, an award-winning journalist and media activist, also spoke at the event and celebrated Quote This Woman+’s mission of increasing diversity in the media. She expressed her delight at being part of an event that recognized the importance of amplifying underrepresented voices.
Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, was represented by Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, who also spoke at the ceremony. Dr T captured the reason behind these awards perfectly: “For too long, women and LGBTQ+ individuals have been underrepresented and misrepresented in the media. This has led to a lack of diverse perspectives, silenced voices, and perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”
The honorees we celebrated that afternoon refused to stay silent. In using their voices, they have opened doors for countless others to follow in their footsteps. They have challenged the status quo, tackled taboos and stigma, and fought for more inclusive representation. “I am sure that their contributions will be felt for generations to come,” Mokgoroane added.
The category winners received their certificates with great joy and gusto, and the overall champion was announced as René Sparks. The event brought together a diverse group of people who deeply appreciate the cause Quote This Woman+ stands for and are committed to supporting it. The ceremony was a special occasion that energised attendees to continue the important work of promoting diversity and representation in the media.
At the end of the event, Ambassador Lammila reminded us that “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” The quote emphasised the importance of collaboration and community in creating meaningful change. The ceremony left attendees feeling that they had found the people they will go together with.
The Voices of the Year awards ceremony was sponsored by the Finnish Embassy, and we are deeply grateful for their support in making the event a success. With their help, we were able to recognize the importance of amplifying the voices and narratives of women+ in the media and celebrate those who are making a difference. We hope that events like these will continue to inspire individuals and organisations to work together towards a more inclusive and diverse media landscape.