College of Education

Celebrating CEDU's women

On 11 August 2017, the Unisa Women’s Forum and the Department of Communication and Marketing hosted the Feroza Adam Memorial Lecture and Unisa Women of the Year awards ceremony. Of the many nominees, Professor Veronica McKay and Dr Soane Mohapi of the College of Education (CEDU) were winners in the categories of Transformative Leadership and Community Service, respectively.

Dr Sindile Ngubane-Mokiwa (Advocacy and Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities), Dr Soane Mohapi (ABET & Youth Development), Prof. Meahabo Magano (Inclusive Education), and Prof. Veronica McKay (College of Education)

The event was foregrounded by the annual memorial of Feroza Adam, the feminine struggle icon who stands today as an example of what women can be, and what women can achieve with grit and determination, and the will to uplift not just the individual, but the collective. “I doubt that any women who have ever succeeded stopped to think about the fact that they were women. And in the end, Feroza Adam was a woman that believed she could do it all,” said Judith Matlou, the event’s keynote speaker. “She was a woman who understood women; the value and the worth of women. She understood that until such a time that the universal rights of women are the same as everyone else’s, then we have a duty on our hands.”

Matlou’s address, entitled The fiery voice that spoke ahead of time, was greeted by roaring applause and agreement from the assembled attendees. She detailed Feroza Adam’s life and noted the perfect timing of the event, in light of how the world has changed, as the global nation has moved closer and closer to equality and inclusion.

This change was illustrated through the jovial air of the event itself, as colleagues turned to one another at the urging of Professor Meahabo Magano, the event organiser, and told one another, “You are beautiful.” Said Magano: “As women, let nobody undermine you. You are beautiful, inside and out, just as you are. It is a shame that society has led you, us, to believe otherwise. But that is our duty to overcome, as women.”

CEDU was represented by the successes of two respected members of Unisa. In the category of Community Service, Mohapi was awarded for her involvement in communities to better the lives of those affected by poverty and poor education. In the category of Transformative Leadership, McKay, Executive Dean of CEDU, was awarded for her inclusion of all capable and talented employees. She was spoken of as a leader and a mother to colleagues and friends alike.

“Women have the collective power, and the potential, for transformation and growth. All too often we focus on the negative challenges, overshadowing the achievements of successful women,” said Professor Mandle Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “We started the month with two shocking examples of violence towards women, of suppression and exclusion of women in our society. It’s hard to celebrate success in such a context, but it is our responsibility to rise above it and see beyond it. Because that is what will keep us going.”

The VC spoke highly of the attending women, of the presence of not just those nominated for awards, but for the supportive cast of women in attendance, who were each there to bolster the other in a support network determined to better the struggle of women in professional, social, and personal circles. “Human dignity is the most basic human right, and it has to be taken seriously,” he said. “As a man, I find it shameful that it is women, and women alone, who seem to be waging this battle for human rights.”

*By Carmen Taxer