Professor Jennifer Thomson
Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing world
This book has been an inspiration to me as I am sure it will be to all who read it. Who cannot but be inspired when they read: “My Mom didn’t have money for my fees so I queued for three days to speak to someone about applying for a loan” or “My unplanned pregnancy did not have to define me, nor keep me from reaching for my dreams and studying further.”
Others wrote about enduring “a six kilometre walk through thunderstorms and heat waves to go to school”, often having over 80 learners in a class, wearing borrowed clothes sizes too big, and arriving at a school without libraries having left a home without books and a community without role models.
Despite these enormous challenges, the women whose stories have been so engagingly captured in this marvellous compilation have all gone on to achieve great successes in their chosen fields, which range, among others, from nuclear and astro-physics, to research on HIV/AIDS, animal physiology and even art curation.
What struck me in particular is how many of these women are wholeheartedly involved in mentoring younger women and girls, not only at their own institutions but also in their home, often rural, communities.
“Although I was studying in the US, I wanted my study to be based in South Africa in the hope that it would contribute to the healing of my nation”, and “If young women can become empowered, we can change the face of HIV” and “If women can be made aware of their options, perhaps in 50 years’ time they will be producing art that pours out the positives in their lives instead of the trauma”.
These statements give real hope for the future. And isn’t it true, as the mother of one of the young scientists said, that: “Education is the husband that will never leave you”?
These women are the living embodiment of the aim of the Organisation for Women in Science in the Developing world. That is, to support the increased participation of women in science in South Africa. I laud them all, and the families and friends who have supported them, and say to all young girls and women out there: Go and do likewise!