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Research Support Units

The recently merged Research Development and Postgraduate Support (RDPS) Office serves as a strategic department to grow the University of the Western Cape’s capacity for innovative, ground-breaking research.

We serve as a catalyst to promote, support, strengthen and grow the research enterprise at UWC. We aim to achieve this by providing an inclusive, multicultural and holistic research development services and resources to faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students that stimulate research and other creative endeavours. We also aim to facilitate and enhance partnerships and collaborations between faculty, postgraduate students, government, foundations, industry, and global research enterprises.

Our postgraduate support ensures that the Institutional Operating Plan (IOP) mandate of UWC is accomplished for staff research outputs and postgraduate students recruitment, retention and throughput. We are key role players in developing infrastructure and policy that promote creativity and entrepreneurial culture at UWC.


Today, research is increasingly data-driven in most fields. Researchers thus require new skills to deal with their data throughout the research lifecycle. eResearch thus has the potential to accelerate research outputs and enhance an institution’s research agenda. The eResearch Office (ERO) promotes and supports the use of advanced information technologies to foster better, faster and higher-impact research. More specifically, its mission is to:
  • Advise researchers and postgraduate students about their data-intensive research and research data management needs
  • Coordinate multi-disciplinary data-intensive research activities and postgraduate student training
  • Organise research data management courses following the Carpentries approach
  • Provide in-house data-intensive research computing infrastructure and support
  • Facilitate access to regional, national, and international data-intensive research computing infrastructure and support


Director: Dr Clement Nyirenda
eResearch Scientist: Dr Frederic Isingizwe Nturambirwe - NRF Y-rated Researcher 
Research Data Specialist: vacant
eResearch Administrator: Oko Lwana




The Library is the legacy of knowledge creation and research endeavours at the University of the Western Cape. More than 80% of the Library budget is spent on quality information resources catering for disciplines core and niche subject collections.

Up-to-date resources are hosted on the Library cloud platform, freely accessible 24/7 to promote the scholarship of research in UWC. Access to the plethora of digital information resources, special collections enhances the body and quality of research output, also increasing the potential of the readership of research.

The Library is the champion in advocating for open access, e-research under the DVC: Research and innovation. UWC institutional repository showcases research output, Thesis and Dissertations uploads and online Open Journals, with opportunity for increasing citation and institutional value. The Repository aims to build and uplift researcher profiles and UWC research rankings.

People - Library Management

Director: Dr Shirlene Neerputh
Deputy Director - Teaching and Learning: Allison Fullard
Deputy Director - Resources and Systems: Mogamat Adriaanse
Deputy Director - Research Support and Access Services: Alfred Nqotole
Co-ordinator - Finance and Operations: Waleed Akherwaray
PA to ​​​Director: Jacqueline Denton

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The Technology Transfer Office’s mission is to support the effective and efficient transfer of research outputs from UWC to socioeconomic markets in order to create value for society, the university, South Africa, and the rest of the world.

It hopes to achieve this by assisting researchers with the development of their research outputs to a point where these can be commercialised through licensing to interested parties and spin-out companies. This would include the establishment of a UWC Seed Fund for the development of these research outputs, as well as ensuring interaction with relevant industrial partners.


Director: Dr Ana Casanueva
Technology Transfer Manager: Aisha Mohamed Ali
Technology Transfer Specialist - Intellectual Property and Contracts: Monique Heystek
Technology Transfer Specialist - Commercialization: Luan Africa
Administrative officer - Intellectual Property: Njabulo Kubheka
Administrative assistant: Oko Lwana


Tel: 021 959 4064

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Special Projects Unit is responsible for managing and coordinating the strategic research initiatives and projects in the Office of the DVC: Research and Innovation.

Core to its responsibilities is to ensure the alignment of research and innovation strategy with UWC’s Vision and Strategy, Management of Communication and Liaison with Internal and External Stakeholder, Monitoring, and Evaluation within the Office of DVC: Research and Innovation. Key to this office is the University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG),  which aims to bolster and support UWC’s strategic IOP goals and thus aims to address the transformation imperatives in the university system through creating an enabling environment for staff and students.


Director - Strategic Projects and Partnerships: Dr Thabile Sokupa

The Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS) undertakes innovative research and critical enquiry to enable South Africa to tackle the challenges of food insecurity and nutrition. Food insecurity is caused by a number of factors ranging from a lack of income with which to purchase sufficient calories and nutrients, to the inability of a county or region to provide affordable food to its population, to constraints on the physical environment limiting the production of food such as water scarcity, poor soil quality and climate change. Accordingly, research at the CoE-FS is transdisciplinary in nature. Through established networks (nationally, regionally and globally) and collaborative approaches; our research examines the scale, nature, causes and consequences of food insecurity in South Africa, and elsewhere on the African continent.

Our collaborative approach recognises the importance of drawing insights from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, as well as stakeholders’ knowledge, to find solutions to the complexities associated with achieving food security and nutrition for all. Our goal is to improve food security and nutrition, through linking innovative science with critical enquiry and implementation strategies, such as; addressing development priorities as set out in South Africa’s National Development Plan, continent-wide frameworks such as Agenda 2063, and global calls to action such as the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG2: “End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition”.


Director: Professor Julian May - NRF C-rated Researcher
Co-Director: Professor Lise Korsten (University of Pretoria)
Programme Investigators: Professor Stephen Devereux - NRF B-rated Researcher, Professor Naushad Emmambux (University of Pretoria), Professor Ndiko Ludidi - NRF C-rated Researcher, Professor Bruno Losch, Professor Frans Swanepoel (University of Pretoria), Professor Rina Swart
Centre manager: Dr Elaine Sinden
Manager - Finance and Budgeting: Mrs Elaine Petersen
Manager - Communication and Engagement: Ms Carla Bernardo
Administrative Assistants: Mrs Robyn Engelbrecht, Ms Nolutando Didiza


Tel: 021 959 3817

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"No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." – John Donne (1572-1631) from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, and several steps in my Sickness - Meditation XVII, 1624

This acclaimed poem’s concept of mankind’s inherent connection to others is universally recognised, and clearly epitomised in the African concept of Ubuntu. What they bring into focus is that we do not thrive on our own, and that co-existing happily with others requires respect, tolerance and consideration.

This is why society is governed by rules and guidelines, and institutions like ours have regulations which need to be adhered to not only ensure the smooth flow of daily operations, but also that all members of our community are treated with dignity and feel safe and secure in the knowledge that their rights as humans are upheld.

The Gender Equity Unit forms an integral part of ensuring that the university’s rules, regulations, principles and policies are upheld, thereby ensuring that your stay at University of the Western Cape becomes one of your most treasured memories.

Browse this section for useful information on the policies the GEU monitors, and our anti-discrimination programmes and activities.

About Us

The Gender Equity Unit’s activities and programmes are geared towards making sure that no one is discriminated against, harassed or hurt because of their gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation, and to facilitating the empowerment of particularly women and other marginalised groups, both on campus and within society at large.​

Our Mission
The Gender Equity Unit promotes Women and Gender equity and social justice through feminist research, education and advocacy in the University of the Western Cape and beyond.

Our Vision
The leading Gender Equity Unit recognised for its feminist intellectual activism and capacitating societies towards ensuring equity in all spheres of life.

Our Aims
1) Ensure Women’s and Gender equity in all spheres of life
2) Promote social justice and human rights
3) Enhance the students’ experience to facilitate successfully through raising awareness and education
4) Equipping the University of the Western Cape community and broader communities to become informed, conscious, and active citizens with regard to Women and Gender issues
5) Conduct relevant research to advance the thought leadership and influence

Our History

Women and Gender concerns at the University of the Western Cape were addressed within a very specific context. In the mid-1980s, when the country was still embroiled in the liberation struggle, women and gender issues were of lesser concern than the bigger issue of human rights. However, a small group of feminists – and men supporting feminism – at the university were deeply concerned about the structural inequities that existed between women and men on campus and set about advocating change. ​

These inequities included disparities in salaries between women and men; men generally earned more than women; women did not receive housing subsidies; there was no maternity leave for women; there were no promotion opportunities for women; women could not go on sabbaticals and all the professors were male with white men in the most senior professorships.

Feminists were concerned about the lack of substantive equity. Issues with regard to bodily integrity, reproductive health and safety and security were of the first items on the transformative agenda for women on campus. As one woman lecturer commented: 'I practically gave birth in the classroom.' During the mid-eighties the then Rector, Jakes Gerwel, was approached by women staff to address their equity concerns. Subsequently a Women's Commission was formed in the late eighties that drew up a list of discriminatory practices, proposals to address them and submitted it to the Rector, Senate and Council.

The list included issues around maternity benefits, housing subsidy, childcare facilities, a sexual harassment policy and the safety for women on campus. Systematically public presentations were made and gains were achieved. The university management was compelled to become more supportive and gender-sensitive in their dealings with women. Women's concerns became part of the broad political social transformative discourse at the university.

In 1993, the Gender Equity Unit was formally established and the first Gender Equity Coordinator, Rhoda Kadalie, was appointed. The Unit was established with seed funding from the Ford Foundation. It was realised that the broader national liberation movement under the auspices of the Mass Democratic Movement did not include the liberation of women. The denial of women's liberation was acutely felt on campus as many of these activist organizations were based at the University of the Western Cape during the height of apartheid. Many of the women on campus were also involved in United Women's Congress; the African National Congress Women's League and the United Democratic Front. There was therefore a keen political awareness of the marginalization of women's concerns. The university is well known as a site of struggle against the apartheid regime.

Women students on campus were also particularly aware of the oppression of women. Collette Solomons, an anthropology honours student, submitted a mini thesis: 'Sexism at the University of the Western Cape: with reference to progressive student organizations'. This thesis evoked strong debates because it focused on issues of rape and harassment amongst the student population on campus and it challenged the notion of justice and respect for women students.

Women students demanded that gender justice be included in the quest for democracy in the students' struggle for freedom.
The pressure for the university to become inclusive of women's rights as human rights came from both the students and staff. The Gender Equity Unit staff started to hold countless public debates, forced the student disciplinary committees to change, conducted awareness raising workshops, educated and trained student leadership and hosted extensive conscientising programmes in the residences to transform the gender hostile climate on campus.

By the mid-nineties the University of the Western Cape had the best maternity benefits in the country, five months fully-paid leave and seven days paternity leave for men; housing subsidies for married women; chief invigilation duties for women; and an educare centre for children of staff. The unit also developed a Sexual Harassment Policy; a Gender Policy and a Non-Sexist Language Policy. Resource booklets on sexual harassment were developed and distributed. Ad hominem promotion was granted to women academics, and they for the first time had equitable access to study leave and research funding. A Women's and Gender Studies Programme was also established.

Women students formed a volunteer group, called Kopanang and began to raise gender awareness amongst students. UWC became the centre for women and gender awareness raising in the country well in advance of the post-apartheid liberal language framework and rhetoric.


Food Programme
The Gender Equity Unit’s Food Programme seek to encourage both students and staff to be generous and provide non-perishable food items that are redistributed to students who fall completely through the safety net. These are students who often are not eligible for NSFAS and who is not a recipient of a bursary or scholarship and does not receive any financial support from other sources such as family.

HumaNature is a programme that raises awareness on campus around matters affecting people who are differently-abled. The programme promotes awareness by providing students and staff access to South African Sign Language Classes, exposing students and staff to the lived realities of people who are differently-abled by frequent visits to non-governmental and community-based organisations advancing their interests and attending an annual breakfast in the dark as hosted by Cape Town Society for the Blind.

Imbewu is a student-run newsletter that encourages students to write critically about their experiences and surroundings on campus. The newsletter publishes various writings including poetry, personal reflections, reviews and critical pieces. It always seeks to provide alternative narratives to the dominant narratives undermining the politics of the marginalised.

Student Publications/Newsletter:
* Gender Equity Unit – Special Publication (14 September 2005)
* Gender Equity Unit – Pink Bulletin (16 May 2006)
* Gender Equity Unit – Inside the Outsider (17 April 2009)
* Gender Equity Unit – Imbewu – Issue 1 (17 May 2011)
* Gender Equity Unit – Imbewu – Issue 2 not currently available
* Gender Equity Unit – Imbewu – Issue 3 (4 June 2012)
* Gender Equity Unit – Imbewu – Issue 4 (5 November 2012)
* Gender Equity Unit – Imbewu – Issue 5 (11 November 2013)
* Gender Equity Unit – Imbewu – Issue 6 (17 June 2014)

Loud Enuf
LoudEnuf is a programme that provides social support and a safe space for LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer/Questioning) students in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. Since 2007, the programme has hosted bi-annual awareness raising and advocacy months in May (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia: 17 May) and October (National Month for LGBTIQ awareness). The awareness raising and advocacy consist of facilitated film screenings, workshops, seminars, marches, fun runs, student centre performances, generosity drives etc.

Through the Mentoring Programme student volunteers spend time with school learners in the surrounding communities of UWC. Students offer friendship, guidance and social and academic support to learners who often view them as positive role models. The student-mentors and learner-mentees retreat to an annual camp through which they get an opportunity to bond with one another and foster a relationship of trust and comradery.

Edu-Drama is an interactive theatre and dram a programme. The programme consists of six productions that have all been performed at the National Arts Festival and various theatres, tertiary institutions, government departments, conferences and Arts Festivals since 2008. These productions introduce the audience to the women behind statistics of violence against women.

The productions as they currently stand includes the following:
* Reclaiming the P… Word
* Reclaiming Body. Reclaiming Self.
* Words 4 Women
* Khululekani Emakhaya
* Sister Sister Sister
* Admission Reserved
* #What’sLeftOut
* The Citizen
* Complicit?
* My Daily Bread


* Gender Equality Award
* Human Rights and Democracy 2004: Organisational Category from the Chapter Nine Institutions.


Dr Fikile Vilakazi

Dr Fikile Vilakazi is currently serving as a member of various collectives globally including the Lordes’ Love Rebels feminist collective, Ikhwelo Healers Collective, Global Ecovillage Network South Africa amongst others, some of whom she has co-created.

She is also an intellectual activist and a former academic at the School of Social Sciences within the department of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.


Maria van Staden
 Programmes Co-ordinator
Tel: 021 959 1314

Maria holds a Diploma in Social Work and a MPhil in Women's and Gender Studies. She has extensive experience in the psychiatry and disability sectors where she was involved in clinical and development interventions.

Maria has a special interest in rural development and worked in projects aimed at the eradication of poverty in Northern Cape.

She previously was also the provincial co-ordinator for disability and therefore has expertise on working with people who are differently abled.

As the transformation manager of the Scouts she developed a gender programme so that girl children could join. As a qualified social worker she is bringing her extensive knowledge and experience concerning social justice, people with disabilities, women and street people to the Gender Equity Unit. Maria intends to study towards her PhD in the near future.

Maria Claassen
Tel: 021 959 2812

Juliana Davids
Tel: 021 959 2812

Limpho Makapela
Student Projects Officer
Tel: 021 959 3488

Contact Us

Physical address: University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17,
South Africa
Tel: 021 959 2813

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