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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

German institute invites UFS academic to research on algae to replace fossil fuels
2015-05-08

Prof Johan Grobbelaar
Photo: Hannes Pieterse

Professor Johan Grobbelaar, from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State, has been invited by the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences - IBG-2 at Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH - to do research in Germany from 8 June 2015 to 4 September 2015.

During his research, Prof Grobbelaar will work on the institute’s large-scale outdoor cultivation of green micro-algae with the aim of finding alternate fuels for the aviation industry. This work includes the cultivation of algae in the laboratory, outdoors, and in the greenhouse; the mentoring of local scientists as well as assistance in, and planning of experiments for, green algae cultivation.

Prof Grobbelaar’s research focus is on Algal biotechnology, Limnology, and Photosynthesis. He has authored more than 80 articles in scientific journals, 18 chapters in scientific books, delivered more than 120 papers at scientific meetings, 41 of them at international congresses.  Among others, he was honoured with the highest award bestowed on a person by the International Association of Applied Phycologists with the title ‘Distinguished Applied Phycologist’.

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