The 2017 SHE-EO SleepOut

On the Eve of National Women’s Day in 2017, Monday 7 August, a collection of some of South Africa’s most prominent female business leaders, along with some of the country’s most notable influencers – including Advocate Thuli Madonsela, MP Susan Shabangu, Minister for Women, The Presidency, The Republic of South Africa – spent the night sleeping outdoors at The SheEO SleepOut™.

The SheEO SleepOut™ was a Special Chapter in the quest to inspire empathy amongst South Africans, empowered by The CEO SleepOut™, which had seen two highly successful Events in previous years. This Event saw female business Rise To The Challenge at the iconic Constitution Hill Women’s Prison in Johannesburg, experiencing a taste of what life is like for the homeless, discussing challenges facing vulnerable women and children, and raising funds for the selected Primary Beneficiary, Door of Hope, which endeavors to create safe shelter for abandoned babies.

R5 414 750.42 was raised with R2 707 375.21 donated to Door of Hope, which will be used towards building a village, where the aim is to give abandoned children a safe and secure environment in which to thrive until they reach adulthood.R5 414 750.42 was raised with R2 707 375.21 donated to Door of Hope, which will be used towards building a village, where the aim is to give abandoned children a safe and secure environment in which to thrive until they reach adulthood.

The Event chose to focus on women in order to bring female leaders and experts together to discuss the recent surge of gender violence, and find solutions for the many challenges facing women in South Africa.

At 18h00, female influencers and businesswomen arrived at Constitution Hill Women’s Prison, where activists and former detainees, such as Cecille Palmer, gave all participants an insightful tour of the grounds and shared stories about what life was like for the women who were imprisoned there.

As the women gathered in the foyer to the sounds of The Pretoria Girls High School choir, they were addressed by host Gugu Cele, Senior Financial Journalist and Anchor at CNBC Africa. Gugu, a previous participant in The CEO SleepOut™ Events, thanked the women for their commitment to social change and assured them they were in for a night of introspection. “I know we have all been taking selfies tonight, but we ask you to put away your cellphones, and be present tonight,” Gugu asked, “to reconnect with ourselves and get back into the zone of understanding why we are here.”

Also speaking at the Event, Beth McGuinness, Managing Partner at IQ Business, explained the importance of the Social Return on Investment of The CEO SleepOut™, which measures and values the outstanding extended social impact of the Events. Lisa Vetten, Senior Researcher and Political Analyst for the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women, took to the podium and spoke of the shocking statistics on gender violence and abandonment in South Africa. “According to a MRC study, 24% of girl children died of abandonment in 2009, as opposed to 15% of boy children,” said Lisa, highlighting how the abuse and neglect of women starts in childhood, and continues into adulthood.

Armed with that information, the Participants gathered in the courtyard of the prison and became deeply engaged in important fire-side discussions, facilitated by Lisa and other experts in the field of child abandonment and adoption. These experts included Robyn Wolfson Vorster, child protection advocate and journalist; Dr Busi Mkwananzi, researcher and expert on teen pregnancy; Sue Krawitz, Director at Impilo Child Protection and Adoption Services; Talia Magnes from the Shaken and Abused Babies Initiative; Whitney Rosenberg, doctoral student in child abandonment; and Dr Zubeda Dangor, Director of the Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development.

The discussions focused on: the crisis of teen pregnancy in South Africa; the need for policing illegal late abortion practitioners; the issues surrounding violence, gender and the economy; foreign and undocumented children and mothers and their rights; unsafe abandonment and the need for a safe haven law; and high-level government support in the Implementation of adoption as a child protection strategy.  The Fire-side discussion documents can be downloaded here.

As the discussions closed, Participants took part in various activities that would benefit homeless and vulnerable communities. They donated hundreds of items of women’s and children’s clothing and books, made sleeping bags, food packs and sandwiches for the homeless, and knitted baby hats for children’s homes.

All of the items donated and collected during the Event were handed over to the extended Satellite Beneficiaries who care for abandoned babies in Gauteng: Door of Hope, Impilo, Angel’s Baby Sanctuary and the Refilwe Community Project, which were then distributed to various local homeless communities on Women’s Day. Along with these handovers, all of the other items collected at the Event were donated to The Gift of the Givers, the Event’s Secondary Beneficiary, on the same day. The estimated value of the items donated was in excess of R1million.

As midnight approached and Women’s Day dawned in South Africa, Advocate Thuli Madonsela shared her solidarity with the Participants, and with all women in South Africa. “Sometimes, we think we shouldn’t do anything to help, because we might be criticised for doing too little,” Madonsela said, “but let us not forget that the ocean is not one big wave; it is made up of tiny drops that all come together to create something huge. I am proud of you. You could have just thrown your money at this problem – and that is good too – but it is not the same as giving your soul to something, as you have done tonight.”

Adding to Advocate Thuli’s humbled thank you’s, was Minister Shabangu, who highlighted challenges for women that need attention, and called on female business leaders to be role models for younger generations. “If we want to change the world we must love ourselves,” Minister Shabangu said, “but we must also help each other rise. Women must support each other in their endeavours, because we are able to get things done.”

At 06h00, the country’s female leaders left Constitution Hill informed and inspired to make South Africa a safer, healthier and more encouraging place for its women and vulnerable communities.

We salute you!

In solidary with The SheEO SleepOut™, Satellite Events took place across the country. Businesses, groups and schools arranged their own Sympathy, South Africa and School SleepOut™ Events, during the months of June, July and August. They spent the night outdoors at office parks, outdoor areas and school grounds, and collected items for the Satellite Beneficiaries in need.

The 2017 SHE-EO SleepOut
Official video

A 1World International Film



IQ Business, the Social Impact Stakeholder Partner to The CEO SleepOut™ Trust, released The 2017 Impact Narrative and can be downloaded here.

To view the infographic created for The 2017 SheEO & 2017 Satellite SleepOut Movement In Numbers please see this link, and Leaving A Lasting Legacy see this link.




The CEO SleepOut™ is more than just one Event, it’s a Force For Good.  Proof of this is the new generation of Agents of Change who are stepping up, and out, in solidarity with The CEO SleepOut™ Event. Our mission of social innovation continues through our affiliated brands, The Sympathy, South Africa and School SleepOut™, all the while showcased in our 1World™ Special Edition, KIDlanthropy.

This great momentum continued to grow in 2017 and saw an impressive 37 School SleepOut™ Events taking place across the country. Sharing a common goal, learners, parents and teachers spent a night outdoors on their school grounds, gaining empathy for the homeless and vulnerable communities, and collecting items for their chosen Satellite Beneficiaries’ wish list.

The 2017 School SleepOut
Official video

A 1World International Film