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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

SA and Africa must avoid going over the edge
2017-02-26

Description: Prof Hussein Solomon, SA and Africa must avoid going over the edge Tags: Prof Hussein Solomon, SA and Africa must avoid going over the edge

From left are: Prof JM Moosa (Centre for African
Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India),
Prof Hussein Solomon (Senior Professor: Political
Studies and Governance at the UFS),
Prof Virgil Hawkins (Osaka School of International
Public Policy Studies, Osaka University in Japan), and
Prof Ajay Dubey (Centre for African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, India).
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

South Africa and the rest of Africa might be standing on the edge of a cliff and therefore conversations are necessary to avoid tipping over. According to Prof Hussein Solomon that was why a conference to address these issues was recently co-hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS).

Prof Solomon, Senior Professor of Political Studies and Governance at the UFS, said the continent and country needed to make the right decisions. “These right choices refer to the correct economic, political, and social policies.”

International delegates attend
Delegates from India, Japan, Zambia, Lesotho and South Africa attended the conference, called A View from the Precipice: Critical Reflections on South Africa and Africa in the 21st Century, on 13 and 14 February 2017 on the Bloemfontein Campus. It was co-hosted by the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), Centre for the Engagement on African Peace and Security, Southern African Centre for Collaboration on Peace and Security and Osaka University (Japan).

Prof Solomon said external actors provided a useful mirror as they gave an idea of how Africa and South Africa were viewed from abroad.

Creating a knowledge-sharing forum
“It is not just about sharing knowledge, but creating a forum for sharing knowledge,” said Prof Virgil Hawkins from the Osaka School of International Public Policy Studies.
Prof Hawkins, who is a visiting professor at the UFS, said a conference like this was one of the cornerstones of the relationship between the UFS and Osaka University. Prof Solomon is also a visiting professor at last mentioned university.

Highlights of conference
Prof Solomon said some of the discussions included that “the ANC government is in crisis and is dragging the rest of the country with it”. Another participant said that 80% of the jobs in the next 20 years had not been created yet – which put the relevance of tertiary education in the spotlight.

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