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27 August 2018 Photo Sonia Small
Prof Thuli Madonsela persuades women to pursue their purpose
Discovering that she was “pretty” for her purpose gave Prof-Adv Thuli Madonsela’s life direction.

What does embracing womanhood mean? For Prof Thuli Madonsela it is about loving yourself and whatever you believe is your purpose in life. 

“All of us are designed for our purpose and are fit for our purpose, you should embrace that and make the best of it,” said South Africa’s former Public Protector in her keynote address to the Women’s Breakfast. In commemoration of Women’s Month, the University of the Free State (UFS)’s Employee Wellness Division hosted the annual event on 21 August 2018 where 900 women gathered under the theme: ‘Embrace your womanhood.’ 

Being a woman today


Law Professor and Law Trust Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University, Prof Madonsela, urged the audience to look beyond the exterior and recognise “that we as individuals have a lot in common”. Speaking of unity in diversity, she praised some of the giants on whose shoulders modern women stand, such as Charlotte Maxeke, Olive Schreiner, Una Wookey, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Helen Joseph, Pam Golding, Bessie Head, and Ellen Khuzwayo.

These leaders are the epitome of following the purpose of “embracing everyone’s humanity and challenging things that diminish the humanity of others”, according to Prof Madonsela.

Remaining resilient and resolute 

Despite having to contend with a patriarchal system and face challenges such as gender-based violence, femicide, poverty, inequity, media stereotypes, as well as poverty, women continue to rise. Prof Madonsela called for women to capitalise on positives such as freedom and possessing a certain degree of power, legal equality, playing a role in political spaces, economic progress, and owning a public voice.

Drawing inspiration from her humble beginnings and the lessons learnt in leadership, Prof Madonsela conveyed a simple message to all women: “You are exactly as you should be. You are a perfect expression of your creator’s magnificence. You were created for a purpose and whatever you do, just step up and pursue your purpose.”

A word from an inspired woman

It was a memorable event for Burneline Kaars, Head of Employee Wellness. “This year it was an honour to host Prof Madonsela who could share both her academic background and professional experience. She accomplished this by skilfully incorporating lessons from our country’s history and her passion for justice,” she said.

News Archive

UFS hosts Fulbright senior specialist
2010-06-14

Pictured from the left, are: Prof. Aldo Stroebel (Director: International Affairs), Prof. Daryl Smith, Ms Dineo Gaofhiwe (Manager: International Research Funding Opportunities, UFS) and Mr John Samuel (Interim Director: the Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, UFS).

The University of the Free State (UFS) has, for the past month, hosted Prof. Daryl Smith, Professor of Education and Psychology at Claremont Graduate University in the United States of America (USA), as a senior Fulbright specialist. She was hosted by the Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, under the leadership of Mr John Samuel, who is its Interim Director. She helped in developing and establishing the research agenda of the institute.

A series of policy briefs and research papers will emanate from Prof. Smith’s tenure at the UFS, complemented by work of three additional Fulbright senior specialists who are joining the UFS early in the second semester. Prof. Smith met with various role-players and stakeholders in the domain of social justice, institutional change, transformation and diversity management, and will continue her association with the UFS at both the Institute and the Faculty of Education, in collaboration with its Dean, Prof. Dennis Francis.

Prof. Smith’s current research, teaching, and publications have been in the areas of diversity in higher education, leadership change, organisational implications of diversity, governance, and assessment and evaluation. She earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology and Higher Education at Claremont Graduate University, her M.A. from Stanford University, and her B.A. in Mathematics from Cornell University.

Amongst many specialist missions, Prof. Smith served as part of two US delegations to the Ford Foundation-sponsored tri-national conferences (India, South Africa, US) on campus diversity in higher education that have taken place in South Africa and the United States. Her most recent book, Diversity’s Promise for Higher Education: Making it Work, is available from Johns Hopkins University Press.

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