Is there anything more valuable than advice from your role models? As young women forging our way forward, it’s easy to forget that the women before us have insights to share. For Women’s Month, Marie Claire in collaboration with Audi, is celebrating powerful South African women who are shaping our collective future. To help you along your journey and equip you to become a future shaper yourself, here are five books written by iconic women that will help you to get there.
1. In No Uncertain Terms: A South African Memoir – Helen Suzman
With a forward by Nelson Mandela, you know this is going to be a powerful read. The book explores Helen Suzman’s journey in a turbulent time in South Africa’s history, as she joined the fight against apartheid. It draws on her relationship with Mandela, dives into the political climate and takes us into her protest of the murder of Steven Biko. Essential reading.
2. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg
For any modern career woman on the rise, this book looks at the challenges faced by women in male-dominated work environments. The author shares stories, struggles and lessons from her own life and workplace experiences. Sheryl delivers practical and informative advice such as negotiation approaches and leadership techniques too.
3. Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
This collection of essays is for any woman who has ever felt intimidated by feminism, or worried that they’re failing at it despite trying, or wondered if there’s anyone else asking the same questions. The author discusses relatable issues like the apparent tension between feminism and wearing make-up, and argues that there are different ways to be a feminist – and that this is okay and important.
4. A Passion for Freedom: My Life – Mamphela Ramphele
As a political leader and partner of the late struggle icon Steve Biko, Mamphela Ramphele is a fascinating and accomplished woman to learn about. Her autobiography shows her extraordinary journey from her hometown of Kranspoort to her rise as a businesswoman, medical doctor, respected political voice and the founder of two political movements. From the ideology of Black Consciousness to the birth of Agang SA, this book takes us through a remarkable life.
5. Ain’t I a woman? Black Women and Feminism – Bell Hooks
Bell Hooks is a iconic American author, feminist and activist who has written more than 30 books. Essential for an education in intersectional feminism, Bell looks at issues of privilege and power, explores stereotypes, and brings an unapologetically black perspective to the feminist movement. An important book by a legendary woman for anyone seeking to understand feminism without shying away from difficult conversations.
So go on and get that inspiration, strength and motivation from women who’ve shaken the world, done the important things and can tell you how. Keep your focus, realise your vision and take a step onto your path towards being the next future shaper.