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A must-read: Women well worth being written about

Published Aug 17, 2017

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An A to Z of Amazing South African Women tells the stories of 26 diverse trailblazers through colourful illustrations and biographies.

From writer Fatima Meer to athletes Caster Semenya and Natalie du Toit, the 60-page book features the courage and determination of activists, athletes, artists, scientists and storytellers who have shaped the past and are changing the future.

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Each woman represents a letter of the alphabet.

“The aim of the book was for the average 13-year old girl who is just figuring out who she is, to learn about the history of inspiring women that often go untold,” said the author Ambre Nicolson.

Nicolson said that teenagers are the “amazing women of the future”.

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Elsies River's hip hop artist Catherine Pretorius, 27, known by her stage name Dope Saint Jude, is also featured. “I feel honoured and humbled to be in a book with the women I admire.

"I look up to so many women featured in the book, which makes me feel like I have a lot to live up to. I believe that many women’s stories are inspiring, women whose lives would never ordinarily be published.

"The book features women who are in the public eye, but my hope is that young women take away lessons in courage, persistence and tenacity that the women in the book display as well as women in their communities,” said Pretorius.

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The book takes its inspiration from the worldwide bestseller Rad American Women A-Z, by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl.

Nicolson said when she came across the American book, she wished that there could be a South African version.

“My friend encouraged me to do it and every time it looked like it would fizzle out, someone would come and help make it happen again.

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“It really was a team effort," said Nicolson.

She said she noticed certain interesting trends while conducting her research.

“Most of the women in the group came from small rural towns and modest backgrounds.

“All had also never achieved great success in their twenties, some achieving it later in life, like in their forties.”

A to Z of Amazing South African Women retails for R295 at Exclusive Books and all independent book stores.

About 50 copies have also been donated to the literacy organisation Fundaza, which will distribute them to disadvantaged young people across the country.

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