/ 8 November 2022

Women and LGBTQIA+ people amplified in new Voice of the Year awards

Pride Sa 2022 5983 Dv
Scenes from the Johannesburg Pride march last month (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

A set of first-of-their-kind awards in South Africa aim to recognise women’s voices in public discourse, including women within the LGBTQ community. 

The nonprofit Quote This Woman+ (QW+) has announced 12 contestants for its inaugural Voices of the Year awards taking place in January next year. 

“We do not need to be given a voice. We have it already. We just need to use it no matter who is in the room or in the audience,” said Phinah Kodisang, the winner in the gender-based violence expert category. 

Kathy Magrobi, the founder and director of Quote This Woman+, said the awards aim “to recognise women+ who go the extra mile to ensure that the voices that are the most marginalised are given a chance to be amplified through media platforms”. 

While women make up more than half of the population, they make up less than 20% of news sources, according to Magrobi. 

“When we switch on our radios and TVs, open our newspapers or read our favourite news online, four times out of five, the expert whose opinion we’re going to hear — giving a context to the breaking news story of the day — is going to be a man.”

QW+ curates a database of more than 700 women experts, activists and thought leaders that can be accessed by journalists. 

The database creates an inclusive community for women as it includes experts who are marginalised for their sexual orientation, gender identity, rural location or because they are living with a disability.

“The QW+ [Voices of the 2022] Awards allow my voice, and the voices of those I support, to be heard loudly across multiple platforms. Our collective voices are capable of an avalanche of transformation,” said René Sparks, an advocate for public health focusing on transgender needs and sustainable menstrual hygiene products. 

Sparks is the winner in the health category, which is one of 12 categories that include environment, economics, politics and law. 

LGBTQIA+ category joint winner Dr Lwando Scott, author of the blog Queer Consciousness, describes participation in public discourse by those who can as a responsibility, because “those who can speak do not have the luxury of silence.”