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UWC celebrates some of its greatest during Women’s Month

(Published - 14 August 2019)

Professor Vivienne Lawack: Prof Lawack is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Before she joined the University she served as the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Whilst Dean of Law, she served as President of the South African Law Deans Association (SALDA) where she led Legal Education (LLB) with the organised legal profession and the Council on Higher Education. She was a member of the national task team on the LLB Curriculum and was a member of the team which drafted the National LLB Standards. She spent several years at the South African Reserve Bank in various capacities including senior legal consultant. Prof Lawack also assumed the position of Senior Legal Counsel for Strate Limited - South Africa’s central securities depository. She has published extensively and supervised a number of masters and doctoral candidates. Her field of research is legal and regulatory frameworks pertaining to the payment system, banking system and financial markets. She is the former chairperson of the Cape Higher Education Consortium board. Prof Lawack is also the new chairperson of the National DVC Academic Forum, and is a council member of the South African Judicial Education Council.

On August 15, Professor Lawack’s office and the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation will host a dialogue entitled: “Where are the Women? - Harnessing the Educational Dividend of Women”. Despite more women graduating from tertiary institutions in South Africa, statistics show that men are more likely to have paid employment. This dialogue, sponsored by Absa, seeks to explore where then do the women go?

Listen to Prof Lawack on CapeTalk:

Dr Sebolelo Mokapela: Dr Mokapela, a mother of four, is the head of the Department of Xhosa in the Arts Faculty, UWC. In 2018 she hosted the Pioneers of Xhosa Literature - a public lecture to acknowledge the work and contribution of Tat’ uJJR Jolobe to Xhosa literature. In addition, she has hosted a colloquium that brought various stakeholders together to discuss the role of indigenous languages in shaping the future of the African continent. This was done in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, the Swahili Language Board of Southern Africa, the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, PanSALB and the Castle of Good Hope. Dr Mokapela serves on language revitalisation programmes and has written several children’s books in isiXhosa.

On September 19, her department will host the second annual Xhosa Memorial Lecture: Pioneers of Xhosa Literature.

Wendy Mehl: Ms Mehl is the Coordinator: Enterprise Development for the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). She was previously employed in the private sector where her experience spanned many industries, including project and event management, civil engineering and medical conferencing. With a strong background in finance, public relations, marketing and project management, the opportunity to be engaging in small business development is a dream come true.

The Economics and Management Sciences Faculty, the School of Business and Finance and the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will host a food market on campus, on August 23, to create opportunities for small business owners.

In addition the CEI and the School of Business and Finance will host a Youth Entrepreneurship & Women in Small Business Dialogue on August 27 at the School of Public Health at UWC.

Contact: Ms Mehl on or call Nomonde Zumani on 021 959 3769.

Dr Mmaki Jantjies: Dr Jantjies, from UWC’s Department of Information Systems, is passionate about using technology to enable children - and especially girls - from disadvantaged backgrounds to get access to online resources, learn programming skills and gain exposure to high tech such as robotics. After obtaining her PhD at the age of 28, Dr Jantjies became one of the youngest and first black female graduates in Computer Science in South Africa. She is a senior lecturer in Information Systems at UWC. She is currently working on a collaborative project to use augmented reality to support teaching and learning in schools.

On August 22, the Department of Information Systems will host 100 young children for a digital skills programme at the University.

On August 23 the department will host the book launch of Taking stock: Data and evidence on gender equality in digital access skills and leadership skills at the University.

Contact: Justine Voigt: 021 9593958

Prof Priscilla Baker: Prof Baker is a recipient of the prestigious Women In Science Award. She holds the SARChI Chair in Analytical Systems and Processes for Priority and Emerging Contaminants, is co-head of UWC’s SensorLab (alongside fellow SARChI Chair holder, Emmanuel Iwuoha) and specialises in the application of frequency-modulated electrochemical techniques that can be applied in water analysis and treatment, bio and industrial catalysis, as well as in energy-related applications.

Her department will hosted the 5th International Electrochemistry Symposium on August 12.

Dr Carolina Ödman: Dr Ödman is a UWC associate professor and the Associate Director of the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA). Dr Ödman works to empower youth with the skills and independent thinking that will make them natural leaders as the 4th Industrial Revolution pushes our societies to change. She has been recognised for her pioneering work in astronomy outreach, and development and education, with a special prize by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Contact Dr Ödman on

Dr Fanelwa Ngece-Ajayi: As the founder and a leader of AmaQawe ngeMfundo, a non-profit foundation which aims to promote and enrich STEM at schools in marginalised communities, Dr Fanelwa Ngece-Ajayi seeks to create a community-based science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) laboratory for school-going children. She is a senior lecturer in Physical Chemistry in UWC’s Chemistry Department, and a research leader in the field of drug metabolism nanobiosensors for antiretrovirals and tuberculosis treatment drugs using green method synthesised nanoparticles. She’s been elected to the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS), and has been named one of South Africa’s Inspiring Fifty 2018. She’s also just been selected as a Fellow of the Next Einstein Forum, a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world, with the goal of helping to develop a generation of African geniuses to leverage science for human development.

A STEM Career Development Workshop will be held on August 31. The aim is to expose learners to professionals in their chosen fields of study.

Contact Dr Ngece-Ajayi on