Research

Unisa women win at WiSA

Congratulations to Prof Azwihangwisi Mavhandu-Mudzusi of the Department of Health Studies, who won the South African Women in Science Awards (WiSA) Distinguished Woman Researcher award in Humanities and Social Sciences last week.

Prof Venitha Pillay, Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Management, College of Education, also did Unisa proud as runner up in the same category.

Naledi Pandor (Minister of Science and Technology), Prof Azwihangwisi Mavhandu-Mudzusi (Unisa, winner of the WiSA Distinguished Woman Researcher award in Humanities and Social Sciences), Prof Venitha Pillay (Unisa, 2nd runner up), Prof Saloshna Vandeyar (University of Pretoria, 1st runner up), and Mmamoloko Tryphosa Kubayi (Minister of Energy).

Mavhandu-Mudzusi said that she is feeling an overwhelming sense of joy and appreciation when she thinks about where she’s come from. ”The journey was not easy. It was not even part of my dream to be at this level. But I have realised that  with passion, commitment, perseverance, humility, empathy and trusting in God, one can reach the highest possible height which cannot even be limited by the sky,” she shared.

For Pillay, the entire event was inspiring. “To see so many women doing such amazing work was wonderful. To know that government supports us is good. I feel energised to persevere and deeply appreciate the recognition of my research,” she said.

Hosted by the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, the WiSA awards honoured emerging scientists, established scientists, and students. The event was held under the theme, Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

The Minister said WiSA has become an important feature of the country’s celebration of Women’s Month. “It builds on the fanfare and the excitement generated by another significant event in the scientific calendar of our country, namely, the National Science Week held in the first week of August. It builds a momentum that grows stronger each year,” said Pandor.

The awards were also attended by Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande and Minister of Energy Mmamoloko Kubayi. Dr Nolulamo Gwagwa, currently CEO of Lereko Investments, a black-owned investment company, delivered the keynote address. Gwagwa praised Pandor for making sure the voices of women scientists were heard and their work celebrated.

She said the failure to recognise the important contribution that women can make to the economy would be detrimental. She urged the women scientists to continue working hard because they can ‘have it all,’ both professional and personal success.

Other winners included Prof Colleen T Downs from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the Natural (Physical and Life) and Engineering Sciences category and Professor Henriëtta de Kock from the University of Pretoria in the Research and Innovation category.

Click here for background article on professors Azwihangwisi Mavhandu-Mudzusi and Venitha Pillay.

Click here for interview on Morning Live.

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