Johannesburg - "We don't need affirmative action in this country," Dr Mamphele Ramphele told delegates at the launch of the Business Partners Women's Fund in Sandton.
Ramphele - who epitomises excellence in leadership at many levels, having served as deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town and as a director of the World Bank - said affirmative action was something that was brought in from the United States, where it was needed to uplift the minority who otherwise would never have had succeeded in getting their fair economic share.
According to her we don't need those measures in South Africa - though we do desperately need transformation, brought about by black empowerment.
"But then you have to ask who is empowered by whom? People, including women, have to empower themselves," she said.
Ramphele, who was a medical doctor before making her mark in other spheres and who currently serves as executive chair of Circle Capital Ventures, has herself experienced the prejudice still faced by women.
Some forms she had to complete for her appointment to boards had stipulated that she had to obtain her husband's permission to take up the position.
The R200m strong Business Partners Women's Fund, launched last week, is a step to help remove barriers to success for women in small and medium enterprises.