27 May 2024 | Story Lacea Loader | Photo Supplied
Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Deputy President of South Africa.

The University of the Free State (UFS) will confer a Doctor of Philosophy in Education (honoris causa) on Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Deputy President of South Africa, on 7 June 2024.

"We are honoured to recognise Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka with an honorary degree for her significant contribution to public service, for her commitment to education and lifelong learning, and for the exemplary leadership roles she has fulfilled nationally and internationally,” says Prof Francis Petersen, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the UFS.

Academic journey and achievements

Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka began her academic journey at the National University of Lesotho, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arts and Education in 1980. She obtained a qualification in Gender Policy and Planning from the University College London in 1988, followed by a master's degree in Philosophy and Planning from the University of Cape Town in 2003, and a doctorate in Technology and Education from the University of Warwick in 2013. She has been awarded several honorary doctorates from South African higher education institutions as well as from the University of Edinburgh and was inducted as a Hauser Leader at the Harvard University Kennedy School.

Impactful national and international leadership roles

Throughout her career, Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka has held various impactful roles. From her early days as a lecturer at the Mpumalanga Teachers Training College to her position as coordinator at the World YWCA in Geneva, she has consistently championed the rights of women and marginalised communities. In 1994, she was elected as a member of the South African Parliament, then as Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry (1996-1999), as Minister of Minerals and Energy (1999-2005), and as Deputy President of South Africa (2005-2008) – the first woman to hold this position as the highest-ranking female political leader in the history of South Africa.

Her tenure at UN Women, where she served as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director from August 2013 until August 2021, has been marked by innovative programmes and policies aimed at advancing gender equality globally, including engaging men as allies in this crucial endeavour. Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka also founded the Umlambo Foundation and serves on the board of global organisations such as Women Deliver and Global Citizen.

Her influence extends beyond gender advocacy; she serves as Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg and chairs the International Olympic Committee’s human rights committee. Additionally, she sits on the boards of Mercedes-Benz SA, Ivanhoe Mining Company, and a renewable energy start-up, SmartGrid.

The honorary degree will be conferred during a ceremony held in Johannesburg.

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.