“When I was young I was very interested in science and technology, and my dad brought home the first computer. I played pac man and I was hooked! By learning to create technology, girls learn to speak up.”Regina Honu (nee Agyare), founder of Ghana-based Soronko Solutions
Throughout history, incredible women have taken on the challenge of showcasing their academic tenacity in a male-dominated world. From Rosalind Franklin (who contributed to the discovery of the structure of DNA), Katherine Johnson (‘Hidden figure’ and NASA computer), to Valentina Tereshkova (first woman in space) and Alice Ball (a chemist who cured leprosy), women have shown that the sky – quite literally- is not the limit to what they can achieve.
Our past paves our future
At the North-West University (NWU), we celebrate our #NWUWomen researchers and postgraduate students who have been passed the baton in the academic relay and taken the challenge to seek their own contributions to history. From the classroom to their communities and the world; they educate, advocate and implement change for the betterment of all.
This year alone has seen #NWUWomen attain prestigious positions and achievements, such as #NWUAlumni Malebo Makgole, Lerato Makgae and Ntoaki Tlape who were appointed to serve on the board of Women in Nuclear South Africa (WiNSA); Prof Christa Rautenbach who received a B-rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF), Dr Elizabeth Smit who was appointed as a member of the Professional Board for Social Work at the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP), Prof Olunukola Oluranti who was elected a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences (NAS) which is one of the highest honours of the academy, and alumnus Ipeleng Kwadi who founded her family-owned enterprise, Motsemotala Cooperative Farming, and has initiated various mentorship programmes for young people in the North West Province.
Recently Dr Anja Visser, a lecturer in the School of Education Sciences published a study: ‘Child labour is a matter of national concern: What is the curriculum doing about it?’ where she interrogates the Department of Basic Education’s Curriculum Policy Statement, contending that it should provide in-depth knowledge on the meaning and forms of child labour.
In the fight against malaria, two researchers, respectively, are doing their part. Dr Janine Aucamp, a postdoctoral fellow from the Centre of Excellence for Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharmacen TM) is currently working on the research title: ‘A 3D Clinostat-Based Bioreactor Model of Liver-Stage Plasmodium falciparum and its Applications in Parasite Biochemistry and Anti-Malarial Drug Discovery’, and Dr Fortunate Mokoena, academic in the subject group Biochemistry, has been awarded the Grand Challenges Africa drug discovery grant for her study “Identification of Novel Inhibitors against Malarial Hsp90”.
Just like the first women researchers of the past, NWU researcher Linda Arkert joins the ranks of ‘firsts’ by conducting the first South African study exploring the perceptions of social work educators regarding the importance and relevance of Environmental Social Work (ESW) in the country, and Tebogo Phakedi, NWU PhD student, alumnus and SABC journalist was nominated as one of the 50 most influential young people of the North West Province.
We are proud of the research and impact of our remarkable women, and the foundation it lays for our future female researchers. Their research is as diverse and unique as each of them, with research investigating how queer and cis heterosexual moviegoers interpret queer coding, to finding new medical substances that can be examined for clinical advancement on a protein that is thought to play a role in the spread of malaria, as well as shedding light on the association between education and employment among young people.
Through their passion for research, they took a problem, sought a solution, and show that there is still so much to discover in the world. They were inspired by the world around them, and now become the inspiration to the future changemakers of the world. At the North-West University, we challenge you to discover women who inspire you!
Empowering women is empowering the world
The journey to success is a long one. It starts at a young age for some or can take a while to be revealed, but in the end, once it is discovered, there is a drive to see it through.
This can be said for the up-and-coming thought leaders of the world, and at the NWU every year, we see young women enter the gates in their first year with dreams and ideas and leave with knowledge, confidence, and drive to start taking on the challenges that lie ahead. Looking at some of the remarkable young women in our #NWUFamily, we are proud of what they have accomplished so far and are excited to see them soar even higher in their dreams.
Such as nursing student Tshiamo Mokgoetsi, winner of the WorldSkills South Africa Occupational Standards national competition, and will represent South Africa at the 46th International WorldSkills Competition in Shanghai, China; and master’s student Kirsty Kyle who recently published an educational children’s book and donated the books to underprivileged school.
Master’s student in physiology, Anja Degenaar, has also set out to identify the biomarkers which will indicate deteriorating kidney function in young South Africans, ensuring early detection and treatment in kidney disease, and we can’t forget Honours student Mareli Joubert, who was awarded a 2021 Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Excellence Award for being the top student in Africa in the Management Case Study exams.
U make the NWU
The list of remarkable women that the NWU has produced and is producing is infinite. It would take many books to fill with their names and accomplishments, and it would have no end, as we welcome new students every year, each with an eagle-eyed vision of their future. It is through U that we are NWU. Your passion for discovery and the drive to seek more is the reason why the NWU is able to provide a conducive environment for teaching and learning and excels in international rankings every year.
Together, women and men of the NWU, we push the boundaries of what is and can be, and work together in our dream to be an internationally recognised university in Africa, distinguished for engaged scholarship, social responsiveness and an ethic of care.