Over 30 Under 50: ‘A Power Woman Gets To Determine Life For Herself’/Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng

Published 3 months ago
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Story curated by Chanel Retief and Nicole Pillay Art Direction: Lucy Nkosi Photography: Katlego Mokubyane ; Assistant: Sbusiso Sigidi Styling: Deneal Van Wyk; Outfits supplied by Fashimo Styles Studio, Ukara, Suited For Her and Preview Accessories Hair & Makeup:Vanessa Unamaca, MakoleMade Location: NewKatz.Studio, Johannesburg

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng’s story is not one that kickstarted with a university degree, or when she started advocating for the sexual and reproductive health and mental health rights of all. In fact, the story that shaped Mofokeng, known as Dr T, had its beginnings in her childhood in QwaQwa, in the Free State province of South Africa during apartheid.

“[I] experienced some of the most exciting but also frustrating and scary times growing up [during] apartheid, but [as] an adult, [I also] experienced the wonder of a democratic South Africa. [I wanted to become a doctor] after witnessing adults and neighbors around me injured in the protests [that happened], and I was there and helpful. I think, as a child, [I was] also inquisitive about [these] protests; I’m grateful that they never chased me away but incorporated me in a way that I was safe [and] could still participate.


At the photoshoot for this feature, Mofokeng is anxious to get to a table where she can open her laptop to finish up some work, as she wears many hats.

As a medical doctor, she specializes in advocating for women’s health with regards to their sexual health and relationship concerns. As the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, her work focuses on the rights of every individual to experience the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. in the US.

“Would you consider yourself a power woman, Dr T?” we ask.

“A power woman is bold. And she is fearless, in that she gets to determine life for herself, she moves at her pace, and is not shy to say ‘I’m exhausted, can someone else take over?’ I accept that for this moment that power is being projected on to me. But I like to project power more than take it as an identity or something that I have to live up to because I’m only human and some days, I’m really not feeling so powerful.”