Women urged to honour female struggle icons

Friday, August 24, 2018

Striving women in modern South Africa should honour the likes of fallen struggle stalwarts Mama Albertina Sisulu and Mama Zondeni Sobukwe who paved the way for their freedom and active economic participation.

The clarion call was made by Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane during the annual South African Women in Science Awards on Thursday night in Polokwane.

This year’s theme is “100 years of Albertina Sisulu: Women united in moving South Africa forward”.

“We chose this theme because, as you would know, we are celebrating the centenary year of Mama Sisulu. This requires us to ask ourselves the question: who is Mama Sisulu to us as South Africans, and more particularly as women? What does the legacy of Mama Albertina Sisulu mean to us today? What is it that we must do to properly honour her legacy?” said the Minister.

She praised Sisulu for her passion for women emancipation and shaping society for the better.

“It is also evident that she is someone who was not only passionate about education but she also understood the importance of good education. She led women in her community to fight against a bad education system that has caused a lot of damage in our country,” she said.

“Again we should ask ourselves the question, more especially as women: What is it that we must do to properly honour her legacy?”

Honouring the nominees, she praised the women for making a considerable contribution towards knowledge production in South Africa.

Kubayi-Ngubane’s words were echoed by the night’s guest speaker Dr Seipati Makunyane, the chief specialist and head of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital’s Ophthalmology Department.

“Let’s take after the likes of Albertina Sisulu and pursue excellence and integrity at individual and institutional levels. There is a need to go back to basics; we need to go back to the drawing board,” she said.

Women, she said, needed to understand who they are and understand that they have what it takes to succeed in whatever they set their minds on.

“As women, we ought to understand the potential that lies within us. We need to embrace the practise of acceptance, self-responsibility, self-care, self-assertiveness, of living purposefully and the philosophy of self-esteemed.

“Even though our racial past and the patriarchal system made us feel we were inferior, this knowledge of who we are and what on earth our purpose is, should come naturally. It may take long periods of introspection of unlearning some scripts of internalising healthy ways of looking at ourselves, of examining our past, of confronting a myriad of monsters within and around us.”

She commended departments like Science and Technology for embracing issues of transformation.

“This fundamental process needs to be undertaken by each and every one of us in order to move forward as a healthy and strong collective working towards moving South Africa forward. To compete effectively at international levels, we need to pursue excellence that is being celebrated tonight.”

She urged women to celebrate the likes of Sisulu and Sobukwe as not to forget their roots.

“There are thousands of women looking to you for guidance, encouragement and motivation.”

The South African Women in Science Awards have become symbolic for South Africa’s celebration of women’s month since inception in 2003.

The Commemorative MeerKAT Award was added to list of categories following the launch of the 64-antenna MeerKAT which, the Minister said, was a huge milestone for science and astronomy in the country. Professor Rene Kraan-Korteweg received the award from the University of Cape Town.

The awards and fellowships come with cash prizes for awardees, runners-up and winners ranging between R30 000 and R80 000.


  • Distinguished Women Scientists (Natural and Engineering Sciences): Dr Evodia Setati, UCT.
  • Distinguished Women Scientists (Humanities and Social Sciences): Prof. Nokuthula Sibiya, DUT
  • Distinguished Young Women Scientists (Natural and Engineering Sciences): Prof. Adrienne Edkins, Rhodes
  • Distinguished Young Women Scientists (Humanities and Social Sciences): Prof. Nicolene Barkhuizen, NWU.
  • Distinguished Young Women Scientist (Astronomy): Prof Susan Ilani Loubser, NWU
  • Distinguished Women Scientists (Research and Innovation): joint between Dr Lucia Steenkamp, CSIR; Pro. Keolebogile Motaung (TUT)

Fellowship Recipients

DST-Albertina Sisulu Doctoral Fellowships

  • Zakeera Docrat
  • Issa Lambrechts
  • Tiisetso Mpai
  • Danielle Roodt

DST-Albertina Sisulu Master’s Fellowships

  • Innocennsia Mangoato
  • Kelly Schwarz
  • Kgothatso Tlhapi 

TATA Doctoral Scholarship

  • Edith Phalane
  • Mapula Razwinani
  • Sinenhlanhla Skhosana

TATA Master’s Scholarship

  • Olayile Ejekwu
  • Sonia Kiangala
  • Sikelelwa Ndiweni