During one of her performances in Paris, when a rowdy table of tipsy audience members were cat-calling her, thumping their glasses on the table and yelling at her to “give us some Dixie!”, the great jazz composer, vocalist, pianist and arranger Nina Simone – who was halfway through a song – stopped playing her piano, stood up and advanced slowly to the foot of the stage, where she had the rabble-rousers clearly in her sights. The room fell silent. Staring at them hard, she drew herself up to her full height. Then, very deliberately and slowly, she said: “I would like you to know that I am a Doctor of Music.”The hush in the room lasted another full minute or two, until the embarrassed hooligans she’d addressed stood up and muttered: “We apologise, Dr Simone.” She waited for them to leave the room before returning to her keyboard and continuing her performance.I was reminded of that marvellous put-down by the women in this issue. Women of great talent, resilience and fortitude – especially black ones – still occasionally have to contend with the cat-callers of the world. And, like Simone, they still need to assert their dignity by staring down their detractors. But – also like Simone – their brilliance speaks for itself. In these pages, we bring you a gallery of women achieving things that were unthinkable to their mothers, let alone their grandmothers. They’re making their mark in every sphere of industry, business, the arts, government and social leadership, drawing on their own ingenuity and, like our cover star, Savita Mbuli, on networks of contacts, mentors, associates and “kitchen cabinets”. Networking, indeed, is the theme of this issue – but for me, there’s also another one that’s showcased in every woman we’ve featured: courage. The courage to dream, to pursue, to risk, to lose, to rise again and to turn an unflinching gaze upon those who dare to deride them. These are women who exemplify everything DESTINY stands for and celebrates. May you find their stories as inspiring and moving as we do.