Contact Us
9 August 2018
Women’s Month August 2018: Amazing UWC Women - The List

(Published - 9 August 2018)

During Women’s Month, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) honours the sacrifices women have made through the centuries - and commemorates the 42nd anniversary of that fateful protest when four brave women led over 20 000 women of all races, and from every corner of South Africa, in a march to the Union Buildings to present a petition against the carrying of passbooks by women.

UWC believes strongly in gender equity, and in realising the full benefits of diversity and empowerment. It is committed to the development of all women - in all aspects. And we celebrate their success in higher education and beyond.

It’s at times like these that we reflect on the many extraordinary women who have made the University their home over the years - and who continue to make a mark on the world at large.

  • Of the over 22 000 students, over half  (60%, actually) are women.
  • Three of the Deans of UWC’s seven Faculties - all celebrated managers, supporters and researchers - are women: Professor Michelle Esau (Economic and Management Sciences), Professor Vuyokazi Nomlomo (Education) and Professor Anthea Rhoda (Community and Health Sciences).
  • Every single one of the three Deputy Vice-Chancellors is a woman at the very top of her field: Professor Vivienne Lawack (DVC: Academic), Professor Pamela Dube (DVC: Student Development and Support) and Professor José Frantz (DVC: Research and Innovation).
  • The University Registrar, Nita Lawton-Misra, is another successful woman with a strong leadership and student support role - and also a registered psychologist and a certified life coach.
  • The newly-elected Chair and Deputy-Chair of Council of UWC are both experienced women executives. Chair Yasmin Forbes has a sterling track record of more than 35 years in the information communications and technology industry, and Deputy Chair, Cindy Hess, is a Choiseul Laureate - recognised as one of the top 100 young individuals who play a leading role in transforming Africa.

These are not, by any means,  the only successful women at UWC. Other notable women on campus include (but are not limited to)...

Women In Business & Economics

Dr Venicia McGhie

As Head of the Department of Academic Development, Dr McGhie uses her 34 years of experience in higher education - 17 as an administrator and 17 as an academic - to perform research focused on the factors that influence student support, retention and successful learning. Having experienced a long journey of her own to academic success, Dr McGhie launched a guide to first year for high school learners and a project to help them meet their financial needs.

Many other UWC women are aiming to transform the world of business - and help others achieve success as well. For example...


Claim to Fame

Prof Cherrel Africa

The Head of the Department of Politics, Prof Africa is a respected commentator on South African politics, a passionate advocate for the importance of education and of the empowering mission of the University of the Western Cape in particular.

Charleen Duncan

Duncan is the Director of UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She previously held positions at ABSA, the SA Medical Research Council, and was project manager for South Africa’s inaugural Year of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Prof Ruth Hall

Prof Hall is one of the foremost experts on land tenure, restitution and redistribution, gender and development policy, and broad-based agricultural development. Prof Hall, a political scientist with PLAAS, is leading the current debate in South Africa on land reform and land redistribution.

Women In STEM

Dr Mmaki Jantjies

Dr Mmaki 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. A champion of diversity in STEM, She’s been named one of the #Inspiring50SA, the M&G Young 200, and the Young Mandelas. Here’s what makes her tick - in her own words.

Some more UWC women whose research and innovations are helping to build a better world...


Claim to Fame

Prof Leslie Petrik

A leading expert in the field of environmental remediation, water treatment, and beneficiation of industrial wastes, Prof Petrik recently received the NSTF-Water Research Commission (WRC) Award for her work towards achieving sustainable water management, knowledge generation and solutions.

Dr Fanelwa Ngece-Ajayi

UWC Senior lecturer in Physical Chemistry, Dr Ngece-Ajay, is a research leader in drug metabolism nanobiosensors for antiretrovirals and tuberculosis treatment drugs. She’s also the founder of AmaQawe ngeMfundo, a non-profit foundation which promotes and enriches STEM by providing assistance with academic support at schools in marginalised communities.

Shireen Mentor

Mentor, a medical bioscientist, attended the prestigious 68th Lindau Nobel Meeting earlier this year, and was selected as a 2018 Fulbright Scholar. At age 29, she is already a published scientist in prominent scientific journals, and she was the first recipient of the coveted national Wyndham Prize from the Physiology Society of Southern Africa in 2014.

Women In Humanities & The Arts

Dr Sindiwe Magona

Celebrated Xhosa/English author Sindiwe Magona has been writing critically-acclaimed (and reader-beloved) books for adults and children since 1990 (to date she has written more than 120 children’s books). Co-founder of UWC CREATES and Writer-in-Residence at the University of the Western Cape, she has won numerous awards in her lifetime, including the Order of Ikhamanga. This year she launched a book explaining skin colour to children - scientifically and poetically.

Some more UWC women whose words and works are changing the way we understand ourselves and our surroundings...


Claim to Fame

Prof Patricia Hayes

As SARChI Chair in Visual History and Theory, Prof Hayes explored the challenges faced in visual studies, investigating key methodological and epistemological questions, as well as issues of civil engagement and representation through popular arts or social media.

Jolyn Phillips

Phillips, UWC PhD student and lecturer, had her collection of Afrikaans short stories, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and Other Stories, adapted from page to stage at Woordfees 2018. The collection also won Best Fiction Single Authored Volume at the Humanities and Social Sciences Awards 2018, while her poetry anthology, Radbraak, won the UJ Debut Author prize.

Prof Sarojini Nadar

A world-renowned scholar of religion and gender - and in particular homophobia, religion, culture, gender norms and sexual violence in an African context - Prof Nadar is the inaugural Desmond Tutu Chair for Ecumenical Theology and Society.

Women In Sport

Bejancke Della

UWC law student (Class of 2019, specialising in family law) and volleyball captain, Bejancke Della has led regional and national teams to victory. Here’s just a sampling of her ongoing sports story.

Interested in more of UWC’s incredible sportswomen? Just read on...


Claim to Fame

Elmien Cloete

A veteran volleyballer and UWC alumna, who is responsible for UWC volleyball administration and coaching, Cloete represented South Africa at the 2018 FISU World University Beach Volleyball Championship.

Babalwa Latsha

After only playing rugby for four years Latsha (22), from Khayelitsha, is flying the South African flag as a Lady Blitsbok at the Sevens World Cup. She plays both codes – 15s and 7s – for the University of the Western Cape, and plays prop.

Vendjihonga Katjaimo

UWC law masters student Katjaimo, who plays as a goal shooter and attacker for UWC, was one of the shining stars for Namibia in the Pent Series Netball, which the country won in July 2018.

More Extraordinary UWC Women

Cornel Hart

UWC community development lecturer Cornel Hart won the 2017 inaugural International Community Development Practice Award from the Community Development Society for her consistent record of engagement and empowerment, and her work on various ministerial task teams and committees. Hart often works outside of regular lecture hours to accommodate working postgraduate students, designing and administering training sessions, offering advice and assistance.

Some more UWC women who’ve devoted their efforts to making life better for their fellows...


Claim to Fame

Professor Pamela Dube

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Development and Support, Prof Dube oversees the Office for Student Development (OSD), the Centre for Student Support Services (CSSS), Financial Aid, Residential Services, Sport Administration, the Campus Health and Wellness Centre, and Student Governance.

Nazrana Parker

A Careers Service Coordinator at UWC’s award-winning Office for Student Development, Parker used her advanced degrees and work experience to simultaneously lecture and supervise social work students - before dedicating her time to helping students attain the careers they deserve.

Dr Mary Hames

Director of the Gender Equity Unit at the University of the Western Cape, Dr Hames runs programmes towards making sure that no one is discriminated against, harassed or hurt because of gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and facilitating the empowerment particularly of women and other marginalised groups, both on campus and within society at large.

Olive Swartz

Nurse Swartz tests students and staff members every day for HIV/AIDS at the campus clinic - a difficult job that involves discretion, counselling and empathy.

Prof Lorna Holtman

The director of the UWC School for Postgraduate Studies, Prof Holtman helps talented undergraduates transform into thought leaders in business and science and law, and all sorts of other fields - and to get through the grind of graduate studies.

And That’s Not All..

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

Well, the Department for Institutional Advancement wants to know about it - and to share their stories with the rest of the world.  So just contact us at or 021 959 9566 and let us know who we’ve missed...and have a wonderful Women’ Month!