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Unisa women bridging gender divide

Zine Nkukwana, CEO: Lindamahle Management Systems

Unisa is ready to close digital skills gap in the country and assist start-up tech companies to provide poorer communities with training to participate in the global economy.

This commitment was made at the Feroza Adams Memorial Lecture and Unisa’s Woman of the Year Awards ceremony held in the university's Protea Restaurant on 16 August 2019 – Adams’ birth date, chosen to pay tribute to her political contributions and life.

Zine Nkukwana, CEO of Lindamahle Management Systems, a 100% female-owned company, said in her keynote address that skills development initiatives are needed in the poorest areas of South Africa to deal with gender divide and to solve current societal problems. "In this country we refer to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) like it’s still coming, whereas we live within that 4IR," she said.

Nkukwana suggested that universities must partner with the tech industry to make sure that South Africa doesn’t fall further behind in the global economy. "This," she said "will assist in developing a curriculum that is suitable for future jobs." She further shared jobs required in the industrial revolution and benefits of 4IR in businesses led by women. She said these types of jobs will prepare everyone to participate in the economy, fight unemployment and poverty, and close equality gaps.

"The curriculum has not changed from what it used to be in the past. What do we do as institutions to equip people with future jobs?," she asked.

Do not forget poorer communities

Nkukwana said that poor communities still have no electricity and some cannot afford data. "Laptops are not used because of digital skills shortage and knowledge," she said "while those challenges hinder the country to succeed, I believe some of the problems are created by universities that are not willing to assist start-up tech businesses with space to roll out e-skills training for future jobs."

Nkukwana stated that a lack of funding and support for women entrepreneurs in male-dominated industries poses serious challenges, as projects are not crafted with a woman in mind. "There is no enough research that will bring solutions to help women succeed in their business ventures," she said. "Patriarchy, self-limiting beliefs and social norms kill women entrepreneurs’ dreams. Most women believe that they cannot do what men do. We need to start thinking bigger and stop saying 'I can’t'."

In conclusion, Nkukwana said that the danger of the world we live in today is the disconnect between parents and children because of technology. "They don’t have an emotional psychological connection to the world," she said. "Don’t leave families behind."

Chairperson of the Unisa Women’s Forum, Dr Sheila Kumalo said that women are tired of being poor simply because they are women. "We earn 25% less than men, while we take care of families," she said. "We organised this lecture to unpack how we can empower women economically. How are we going to sustain ourselves economically?"

From left: Memme Ramaila (Respondent), Reabetswe Mathibeli (Poet), Zine Nkukwana (CEO: Lindamahle Management Systems), Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor: Unisa), Prof Sindile Ngubane-Mokiwa (Programme Director) & Dr Sheila Kumalo (Chairperson: Unisa Women’s Forum)

Unisa Woman of the Year Awards

The lecture proceeded with a celebration of women’s achievements and their progress within the university. Six women from different support and academic departments were honoured for making an impact in their workspaces, academia, communities and research:

  • Mavis Pauline Mashego (honoured for community service)
  • Dr Gladys Kedibone Mokwena (honoured for significant achievements)
  • Dr Smangele Truelove Mkhwanazi (honoured for courage in adversity
  • Motshedisi Elizabeth Modise (honoured for enhancing others' health and well-being)
  • Vanessa Mokobedi (honoured for transformative leadership)
  • Professor Zethu Nkosi (honoured for advocacy and promotion of women's rights)

In his congratulatory message, Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said that the women Unisa is honouring have a clear understanding of what needs to be done. "Activism is not something that must come once, it must happen all the time, because it is consciousness," he said.

Comments from Unisa women who attended the event:

What an inspirational event. We learnt a lot about entrepreneurship, 4IR and future jobs. It’s not always that Women’s Month can give such teachings. We appreciate still being celebrated by our university as women. Amandla. Thank you. ~ Sarah de Bruin, Graduation Division

What an awesome event by the Unisa Women’s Forum in celebration of Feroza Adams. I enjoyed the teachings about technology and 4IR, and the disconnect between parents and kids. Womandla!!! ~ Portia Mogohloane, Graduation Division

The speakers were inspiring and thought-provoking. I am inspired by the knowledge imparted regarding 4IR, the opportunities that it brings and how to best prepare ourselves, our children and our communities. Education and skills development are clearly the key interventions. There are so many opportunities out there for women. Together we can reach great heights. ~ Patience Skosana, Directorate Student Assessment Administration

The Feroza Adams Memorial Lecture hosted by the Unisa Women’s Forum was relevant and on point. The kind of ICT knowledge and skills people need in the modern careers were shared. ~ Eugenia Mafido, CHS Deanery

* By Lesego Ravhudzulo, Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement


Publish date: 2019/08/22

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