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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 withdraws interdict against SASCO and ANCYL
2003-11-25

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Prof Frederick Fourie, announced today that a court order against the South African Students Congress (SASCO) and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) had been withdrawn.

The withdrawal of the court order follows after a written statement by SASCO and the ANCYL in which they “unconditionally withdraw or retract statements threatening to render the institution ungovernable” and give their “commitment not to proceed with our threats to establish our own democratic SRC and occupy the current SRC offices”.

The UFS management obtained the court order in October after SASCO and the ANCYL refused to accept the outcome of the recent student referendum and SRC elections and threatened to disrupt the campus.

Prof Fourie also welcomed the undertaking by SASCO and the ANCYL to act in accordance with the prescribed procedures to resolve any grievance that the organisations may have, saying the UFS management remains committed to a constructive dialogue with all student organisations to manage a campus of diversity, tolerance and non-racialism.

In September students voted in a referendum to test support for a system of proportional representation (PR) for the SRC. A vast majority of students voted against the PR system, a system favoured by SASCO and the ANCYL..

Following allegations of fraud in the referendum, the UFS management asked the auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent audit of the ballot papers.

The auditors found that a total of 180 ballot papers out of 3513 – only 5.12% - of the votes cast - appeared to have been altered by means of erasing and then changing the student number.

According to the auditors, with all potentially altered and suspicious ballot papers excluded, a huge majority of 60,8% of students voted against the proportional representation system.

A few days after the referendum, the actual SRC election was held. However, at no stage were there any complaints from any organization about the integrity of the SRC election itself.

Despite this and the findings of the auditors, SASCO and the ANCYL refused to accept the outcome.

Law student Quintin du Plessis was elected SRC president. He welcomed the stance taken by SASCO and the ANCYL to pursue their objectives through the existing structures and said the SRC was always willing to engage with these organisations on issues of student governance.

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