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27 August 2018
More Amazing UWC Women 2018: Women In Health

(Published - 27 August 2018)

During Women’s Month, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) honours the sacrifices women have made through the centuries - and celebrates their many successes in higher education and beyond. Women who continue to make a mark on the world at large.

UWC is one of South Africa’s leading academic institutions when it comes to health (and actually one of the top 1000 institutions in the world when it comes to health sciences), and that’s due in no small part to the many impressive women involved.

Did you know?

  • The Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences is a woman, Professor Anthea Rhoda.
  • So is the Director of the School of Public Health, Professor Uta Lehmann, and of the School of Nursing, Prof Jennifer-Anne Chipps - who head up two of South Africa’s largest and most celebrated producers of health workers.
  • Four out of the six Heads of Department are women, championing teaching and research in everything from Physiotherapy to Dietetics, and Nutrition to Social Work.
  • The Faculty is home to four SARChI Chairs, who help to promote research excellence and innovation, and respond to the country's social and economic challenges - and all of them are women.
  • Substantially more than half the students in the Faculty are female - and women almost always top the CHS Dean’s Merit List (and even the overall UWC lists) year after year.

There are women doing important and inspirational work on topics related to health in the Faculty of Dentistry, the Faculty of Natural Sciences, the Faculty of Arts.

When it comes to health and wellness, women at UWC are using cutting-edge methods to change the way we eat, the way we play, the way we run our health systems, and waste industry - even what we consider medicine.

These pioneering UWC women in health include...

Maria Eugenia D’Amato: Dr D’Amato is an expert in the field of molecular population genetics. Her main research focus in the Forensics DNA Laboratory involves the study of levels of human genetic diversity in Africa and implications for human identification - and forensics. She also conducts important research in wildlife forensics.

Marion Keim: Healthy body, healthy mind, as the saying goes - but that goes for society as well, and nobody knows that better than Prof Marion Keim of UWC’s Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence for Sports Science and Development (ICESSD) - a former athlete, coach and teacher, with degrees in Sports and Exercise Sciences Law.

Asha George: South African health system are complex, and must overcome the legacies of both colonialism and apartheid. Prof Asha George of UWC’s School of Public Health, SARChI Chair in Health Systems Complexity and Social Change, has the tough task of researching (from a governance, gender and human rights perspective) and reforming a system which was never set up to adequately serve the majority of the country.

Catherina Schenck: South Africans recycle and repurpose only a tiny fraction of the waste we produce - 90% of our waste goes to landfills. That’s a lot of unnecessary pollution. But Prof Catherina Schenck, SARChI Chair in Waste and Society, is leading research and capacity building to help us find ways to turn waste into opportunities.

Gail Hughes: Epidemiologist Prof Gail Hughes has made it her mission to explore the potential of indigenous plants, and to scientifically and clinically unlock the value of indigenous medicines for wellness. As the Director of UWC’s South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute (SAHSMI), the only one of its kind in the country, she explores the potential of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

And That’s Not All...

These aren’t the only amazing women at UWC. Do you know any other incredible UWC ladies? Women who’ve excelled at their sports, performed world-changing research, created amazing art, or helped other people succeed?

The Department for Institutional Advancement wants to know about it - and to share their stories with the rest of the world. Contact us at or 021 959 9566 and let us know who we’ve missed. Have a wonderful Women’s Month!