• Cape Town City Hall & Grand Parade

    It was on the balcony of this landmark building where the late President Nelson Mandela made his famous speech when he was released from prison in 1990. It was built in 1905 amazingly out of limestone imported from England! It was also here where Queen Elizabeth II had her 21st birthday party when she was visiting Cape Town back in 1947! The City Hall, home amongst other things of the Cape Town Philharmonic orchestra, looks out over the Grand Parade which on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, is abuzz with women dressmakers buying bolts of cloth, zips, buttons and accessories of all kinds from the market stalls. Also a great place to buy bargain clothes, second-hand or locally made. The historic Grand Parade is bordered by the Castle of Good Hope, the Cape Town Public Library and Cape Town Station.  This is also a useful starting point to visit the Old Granary and the District Six Museum, in Buitekant Street. Just up the road, off Adderley Street, find one of Cape Town’s most colourful locations, the flower market in Trafalgar Place next to the old Standard Bank. Here locals and lovers are able to brighten up their day or someone else’s Read more [...]

  • Charly’s Bakery

    Great place to get a cup of coffee under your belt before you start! This family run business is headed by Jacqui Biess and daughters Alex and Dani. In their crazy icing sugar pink building they produce cakes beyond the imagination for every possible occasion. Specialities include Double Chocolate Cheesecake and their famous chocolate and vanilla ‘I love CT’ cup cakes. A tiny coffee shop on the premises packs in sweet-toothed Capetonians. The team also featured in their own TV series Charly’s Cake Angels. They are also proud to have baked a cake for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s birthday.

  • Old Granary

    During the 19th century, this gracious old building, known as The Granary was a ‘House of Correction’, a women’s gaol! A grim place where women had little rest, no exercise and spent most of their days washing or sewing. Young Irish inmate woman Mary Cowrie, held charged with theft, described it as a ‘den of infamy’ and describes how she promised to speak out about it when a cellmate died soon after being flogged. Today women prisoners are held in Pollsmoor in Tokai, sometimes with their infants if they are mothers. Neglected for twenty years, the building has been restored as premises for the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation.

  • Cissie Gool Memorial

    In 1938, Zainunnisa ‘Cissie’ Gool was elected to the Cape Town City Council, becoming the first black woman in the country to serve in local government. In 1962 she became the first black woman to be called to the Cape Bar. She became known as the ‘jewel of District Six’ where she lived for all her contributions to the city and its citizens. Her legacy lives on in these granite blocks that represent the different laws that she helped to pass. Artist Ruth Sacks was commissioned to create this memorial as part of the Sunday Times 100 year Heritage Project. Find out more about Cissie at the District Six Museum further back up Buitenkant St.

  • Kratoa Place and Bench

    At the intersection between St George’s Mall and Castle St, was once a beautiful mosaic bench installed in honour of Kratoa or Eva of the Goringhaikona tribe. Born in 1642 the young Krotoa was taken under the wing of Jan van Riebeeck and his wife Maria and taught to speak Dutch. She went on to become an unofficial interpreter for the colonists. Later she married explorer Pieter van Meerhof who was subsequently murdered in Madagascar. Alone in Cape Town with her three children Kratoa fell into ‘an immoral and dissolute’ life and was banished to incarceration on Robben Island. She died in 1674 a broken soul. Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille unveiled the bench, itself one of many designed and created by Rock Girl, a grassroots movement  founded by US born India Baird to inspire, encourage and promote girls and women in dangerous and challenged areas creating ‘safe spaces’ in and around the CBD.  Sadly in 2015 Khoisan activists destroyed the bench not wanting people to sit on the image of their heroine.

  • Greenmarket Square

    Crammed with wares from all Africa, this is surely the place to buy gifts and mementoes. It would be hard to count how many vendors there are selling here on the cobbles – but no prizes for guessing that a large proportion are women. Women from all over the continent  – DRC, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria who’ve come to the Cape to make not just a living, but a home. There isn’t a woman here who doesn’t have a story to tell, a journey to share, and almost certainly a treasure you’ll want to take home with you.

  • Church Street

    First stop on this bustling strip is The Gallery Shop. It’s owned by Lorin Strieman who has an unfailing eye for beautiful and orginal hand made goodies – jewellery, accessories, artefacts made mainly by women’s groups from South Africa and Africa.  The rest of the street has a great mix of art galleries and street traders amongst them queen of the vintage vendors, Brenda Scarrett, who for years ran the much loved Second Time Around shop in Long Street (still in business btw!). Find her on the corner of Long and Church Streets, at her stall selling Cape collectables and memorabilia. On the same corner, pop into MeMeMe established by Doreen Southwood and across the road Mungo and Jemima, owned by Kirsty Bannerman and Marian Park-Ross, both super spots for proudly South African and stylish fashion from local designers. Further down Long St, itself dotted with funky fashion outlets, you’ll find the African Women Craft Market.  As the name suggests it’s a cornucopia of beaded, woven, painted and sculpted craft. Three stories of meandering indoor market filled with a rainbow of baskets, bracelets, boots and pretty much every accessory known to womankind. And if you’ve got the time there are Read more [...]

  • George’s Cathedral

    Despite the male name, St George’s Cathedral, opened for service since 1934, has been a special place for women both politically as well as in a pastoral way.  The Black Sash, women’s activist group in the apartheid era, used the steps of the cathedral as a place to protest the then regime. It was also a refuge for the mainly women hunger strikers protesting squatter camp evictions in 1982. These and many other stories from its past are told in a book called St. George’s Cathedral: Heritage and Witness written by two women congregants Mary Bock and Judith Gordon.

  • A Queen and Parliament

    Across the entrance to the Company’s Garden,  see one of only two statues of women in the city, Queen Victoria. The other is Maria van Riebeeck, wife of the colonist Jan down on the foreshore. The marble queen stands in a leafy spot o the side of Parliament. Traditionally the Mother City has always been home to Parliament with Pretoria the administrative capital, though there is ongoing debate about the economic viability of this arrangement. Today Parliament is made up of approximately 42% women. The city currently (2017) has a female Mayor: Patricia de Lille and the Western Cape province has a female premier: DA leader Helen Zille. Every year a Woman’s Parliament is held in August, Women’s Month. August 9th is Women’s Day honouring the day of the Women’s March back in 1956 when over 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings to protest the Pass Laws.

  • The Slave Lodge, Slave Memorial

    More than sixty thousand people were brought to the Cape to be sold into slavery during 1652 – 1807.  Between 1679 and 1811, this windowless building was filled to the brim with slaves – many of them women and mothers. The ‘lodge’ was also used as a prison, mental asylum and unofficial brothel. It is said that back then ‘women in the Cape were few, but slaves were plenty.’ It is now an Iziko Museum and amongst the displays is an exhibition on the story of shweshwe – a fabric synonymous with traditional fashion in South Africa. Across the road in Church Square, is a series of marble blocks dedicated to those slaves, inscriped with their names and powerful words of resistance and suffering. One of the artists involved in the design is celebrated sculptor Wilma Cruise. Sadly women still often find themselves enslaved through abuse or disempowerment – and the Women’s Legal Centre in Constitution House in Adderley St offers help very often free of charge. Started in 1999 by a group of women attorneys, the Centre gives legal advice and guidance to women in Cape Town and across the country.

  • Bread, Milk and Honey

    By now you will definitely be ready for another cup of coffee and there can be no better spot than this woman-owned, women-run shop where you can enjoy a barista made brew along with home bakes and a healthy buffet lunch spread. Owner Mandy Mitchell works with a team of trained and treasured female staff.  Walk on back past the Town House hotel and across the road past the Magistrates Court on your left. Sadly there a large number of cases of domestic violence against women and many will be tried here at the Courts. Although fewer than half of the country’s judges are women, the government is committed to improving the gender balance. Following a national indaba on women and the law in 2006, the South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA) was established. Walk on till you get to Buitenkant Street once again, cross over and you’ll eventually find yourself back at Charly’s Bakery. I hope you enjoyed your Full Circle!