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Unisa online - Recognising women's efforts in memory of Feroza Adam

Dr Genevieve James graciously accepts her award from Prof Mandla Makhanya

Women are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Shining bright at the 14th Feroza Adam memorial lecture, hosted by the Unisa Women’s Forum (UWF) and co-hosted by Corporate Communication and Marketing (CC&M), were nominees for the Unisa Women of the year awards ceremony on 6 August 2012.

The Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor and the UWF once again called on nominations for the Unisa Women of the year awards and, as always, received very positive responses. With the goal of acknowledging achievements on various levels and sectors in the university, Dr Judy Henning, Chair: UWF explained that “the Unisa Women of the year awards are aligned specifically to the goals of the UWF and not meant to compete with or replace other categories of awards in Unisa, such as the women in research and excellence in tuition to name a few.”

The categories for 2012 are:

  • Transformative and Servant Leadership
  • Significant Achievements
  • Community Service
  • Courage and Adversity
  • Advocacy and the Promotion of Women Rights linked to the Feroza Adam award

A number of the 2012 nominators suggested more than one category for their candidates. In the final analysis, the panel experienced that this was not a ‘buckshot approach’ to ensure a position, but rather sound and thoughtful considerations of their unique strengths and integrated nature of commendable characteristics.

Prof Mary Ruth de Villiers, appointed from January 2011 as one of Unisa’s 13 Research Professors in the School of Computing, walked away with the ‘Transformative and Servant Leadership’ award. She was chosen in recognition of her exceptional and sustained mentorship, and assuming a leadership role during difficult transitional phases of the department.

‘Significant Achievements’ went to Prof Bernadene de Clercq, Head: Personal Finance Research Unit (PFRU), BMR. Her achievements have strengthened the PFRU, the School for Accounting Sciences, the BMR and Unisa considerably with respect to personal finance research. Her research contributes directly to a critical societal issue and has had considerable policy impacts.

Dr Judy Henning and Prof Puleng LenkaBula at the 14th Feroza Adam memorial lecture

Dr Liza van Jaarsveld, Department of Public Administration and Management, walked away with the ‘Courage in Adversity’ award for overcoming personal and incapacitating health challenges and still excelling, thus being an inspiration and motivation to many.

Mathabatha Primrose Mapepu, General Assistant for Tuition and Facilitation of Learning received the ‘Community Service’ award.

The much anticipated Gender Activism – Advocacy and Promotion of Women’s Rights award, linked to the Feroza Adam award, went to a very deserving woman this year. Dr Genevieve Lerina James, Executive Assistant in the Office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, was identified as an exceptional scholar and activist. She was described as one of Unisa’s ‘foremost ambassadors’, building incredible goodwill through internal and external sustainable partnerships as she courageously facilitates access to the power of knowledge, using a ‘liberator pedagogical’ approach, positively impacting on the lives of citizens in marginal communities. The panel agreed that James imbues the spirit and passion of the late Feroza Adam, and her efforts continue to use education as a transformative and developmental tool.

Many other nominees in the various categories received special mentions on the day, ensuring that the shining stars of Unisa were acknowledged for their efforts.

Commending these women for doing more than just participating in institutional life, Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said women like these are “often the people who have a deep interest in, and commitment to, their work and more particularly, to looking at ways in which they can use that interest and commitment – call it passion if you like, in the best interest of Unisa and the stakeholders who we serve.”

Giving the Feroza Adam Memorial Lecture for 2012 was Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Director/Advisor: Principal and Vice-Chancellor’s Projects.

*Written by Kirosha Naicker

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