Sadly, the under-representation of women and African women in particular in science and academia persists. This denies the continent and our country an opportunity to exploit the talent that exists and could be used to resolve most pressing issues that require joint effort. When I see young women, I perceive a goldmine of abilities waiting to be explored. Yet women are one of Africa’s and South Africa’s most untapped talent.
This was the sentiment of Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya, a Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), when she officially launched her book Vision Never Dies: from rural girl to award winning fighter of pandemics on Wednesday, 29 September 2021.
A NRF rated scientist, Prof Phaswana-Mafuya was declared a Science Role Model and Science Ambassador by the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF).
Prof Phaswana-Mafuya spoke about her career journey which has been a life-long learning process; she demonstrated how she moved from learning curve to learning curve, in the quest to realize her undying vision to change, transform and impact lives. She unpacked her learning curves and the lessons derived from these, to inspire science and career motivation, passion and success.
Prof Phaswana-Mafuya maintains: “Learning, however, has little meaning unless it is passed on to future generations. I made it through my career journey because I was a beneficiary of generosity from remarkable scientists and institutions. In return, I passed the baton by using my insights to serve and bless others. In this book, I therefore not only explore my own learning experiences but also the encounters of some of the young visionary women I have had the privilege to mentor. The learning curves from my journey and the journeys of the young phenomenal women featured in this all-in-one timeless inspirational and empowering book, offer some insights, tools, techniques, testimonials and testimonies,” said Prof Phaswana-Mafuya.
“The women in this book candidly demonstrate how we they broke barriers, embraced challenging endeavors, exercised versatility, and exploited opportunities. They stepped out of their comfort zones, stepped up their game, rose above gender subtleties, and never allowed their voices to be muted or silenced against all odds. The visionary women in the book never allowed themselves to be pitied, second guessed or pigeon-holed by fixed mindsets that resist change. They did not succumb to silent pressures to conform to stereotypical roles of women. Instead, they persisted against all odds. Their accomplishments speak volumes about black women excellence.”
According to Her Excellency, Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union: “Journeys of successful women scientists, although so few, need to be told repeatedly to bring hope, inspiration and courage to many others, This book demonstrates the potential of science access and success by women from all walks of life.”
Participants heard more about the story behind the book from the author, alongside a range of congratulatory messages from the UJ leadership and external science experts during the launch event.