Buckland is top woman

Khanyisile Nkosi

Khanyisile Nkosi

Eastern Cape community worker Janet Buckland, pictured below, is this year's Shoprite Checkers- SABC2 Woman of the Year for her outstanding work in making the arts and culture come alive in the province.

Buckland, who was honoured at a dazzling function in Cape Town recently, also scooped the prize in the arts, culture and communications category, beating finalists Andile Gaelesiwe and Gladys Doreen Thomas.

Buckland, fondly known as "Mama J" to people in Eastern Cape, has been responsible for creating a number of successful arts and culture projects in the province.

Armed with extensive experience in the arts, Buckland initiated the projects and raised funds to sustain them.

She is also responsible for establishing Ubom, the first full-time drama company in Eastern Cape.

Ubom brings theatre presentations and drama workshops to schools and communities.

Buckland says the award will encourage her to work even harder to improve the arts and culture in the province.

"With such an award the message is clear - look beyond the surface and really see the need out there. Everyone has something valuable to share or give," she says.

The winners of the other six categories are:

Business Entrepreneurs Category: Thabang Molefi, an Ethno medical practitioner and beauty therapist, who opened the first health spa in Soweto six years ago.

Today she owns The Roots Healthcare Centre, which has branches in other provinces and neighbouring countries.

Education Category: Roslyn Narain-Mohan is a teacher at the New West Secondary School in Durban, where she has worked hard to find a solution to social injustices affecting her community.

She has launched various campaigns to make a difference.

She uses her teaching skills to teach the community how to engage and seek answers for social problems.

Health Category: Lorna Barbara Jacklin has dedicated her life to improving the lives of children with mental health problems caused by physical disability or abuse.

She has acted as an ombudsman for the children who do not fit into mainstream education and struggle to fulfil their potential because they are misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mistreated.

Science and Technology Category: Claire Penn is an internationally acknowledged scientist and academic.

She has proved that women can reach the pinnacle of academic excellence and match their male colleagues in conducting high-level scientific research.

Last year she received the Order of Mapungubwe from President Thabo Mbeki for her contribution to the field of speech and language pathology and for her ground-breaking research in understanding the complexities of human communication.

Social Welfare Category: Veni Naidu gave up a high-powered and lucrative career in the corporate world 10 years ago to contribute to the betterment of South Africa.

She received a doctorate for her research into the potential effect of HIV and Aids on business, families and communities.

Other researchers have expanded on her work.

Sport Category: Sherylle Calder is a visual performance skills coach with extensive experience on the subject.

She received World Cup winners' medals after coaching skills to the Springboks last year and the 2003 English World Cup winners.

As the only person in the world to achieve this, Calder is a pioneer in the field and has created a new sport science.