VUT WOMEN’S FORUM TO EMPOWER WOMEN TO THRIVE IN RESEARCH, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, LEADERSHIP, AND MANAGEMENT
By: Nontobeko Moimane 18 October 2022
Achieving gender equality within higher education, and breaking down the barriers for women, requires fundamental change from higher education institutions, policy makers and others involved in the sector. In its concerted efforts to contribute to this principle, the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) recently held the pre-launch of the University’s Women’s Forum – a structure that primarily aims to capacitate and empower women to thrive in research, entrepreneurship, leadership, and management.
Under the auspices of Stakeholder Relations Portfolio within the Advancement Department, the event also saw women staff and students gather at the Desmond Tutu Great Hall for a dialogue in celebration of their achievements and successes, while also responding to the question of whether they are doing enough to support and celebrate each other.
Laying the foundation and giving the event’s background and purpose, Dr Susanna Burger, who is the acting Research Director, stated that women are less crowned and often robbed of the victories they have attained in some of their respective spheres. “We have devised ways to ensure that women are properly honoured and celebrated; hence, this remarkable and special event set to celebrate women who have proven, not only to themselves but also to the communities which they’ve been dominating in all aspects,” added Dr Burger.
The event was honoured by the presence of Dr Gwen Ramokgopa – a woman who wears different caps at different times, including former Deputy Minister of Health in South Africa, former Chancellor of the Tshwane University of Technology and most importantly an activist and advocate for women’s rights and wellbeing. In her keynote address, Dr Ramokgopa highlighted that women who are empowered with knowledge and skills, working within an organization, have various epochs of history globally and have made measurable contributions to economic, political, social, and cultural transformation. She further emphasised that “alone you can achieve so much, but if you are networked with females in an organisation, you can achieve even more”.
In concluding her address, Dr Ramokgopa congratulated VUT for establishing the Women’s Forum, which she described as a critical platform. She suggested that the VUT’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Dan Kgwadi, as a visionary leader, should be requested to present an academic paper on women empowerment that can also be distributed to the broader society for greater use and implementation.
During the event, Dr Nthabiseng Modiga from 4DHealth presented a breast cancer awareness talk, where she encouraged the audience to examine their breasts and bodies constantly. This, she said should not only apply to women, but men as well as they can also be susceptible to breast cancer.
Dr Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye, the VUT’s Project Manager: Dihlare Remedy, gave a brief overview of the VUT Women’s Forum. Although the Forum would cover many facets of women empowerment, she emaphasised that it will significantly impact the institution’s research capacity and development.
Another key feature of the day was the panel discussion led by some of the formidable women within higher education and other sectors. These included Ms Busisiwe Ramabodu: VUT Executive Director -Human Resources; Ms Kimberly Kempkes: VUT- Chairperson of National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU); Ms Gao Mothoagae: Vice-President CSI and SASOL Foundation; Dr Thoko Xaba: Associate Professor at the VUT Faculty of Applied and Computer Science; Dr Nandi Malumbazo: Senior Lecturer of Clean Coal Technology at Wits and Dr Narissa Ramdhani, VUT Director for Resource Mobilisation. A shared sentient during this session was that women should start celebrating and documenting their own achievements – in that way, it’d be easy for them to be recognised.
In the end, the event also provided a platform for women in business and leading NGOs/NPOs around the Vaal as well as VUT student entrepreneurs to show case their work/ businesses.
Click here for more images: Prelaunch of VUT Women’s Forum