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Professorial Inauguration: Professor Shika Vyas-Doorgapersad

SHIKHA VYAS-DOORGAPERSAD was appointed as a Full Professor, Department of Public Management and Governance at University of Johannesburg, South Africa. The video of her Professorial Lecture can be downloaded. In her professorial lecture, she emphasised that the post-apartheid South Africa has established various legislative frameworks to eradicate the restrictive developmental policies of the past. One of these frameworks is to promote gender equality in the workplace. Socially, economically and politically, there is still a gap between women and men holding decision-making portfolios, resulting in suppression of women’s capabilities. She has therefore conducted research in various South African municipalities utilising a qualitative approach.

The findings reveal an ineffective implementation of gender equality in employment equity plans; gender-based pro-poor strategies, gender-based quality of work life; and gender-based job satisfaction. She informed that she has developed the development tools to bring a shift from ‘gender-biased’ to ‘gender-based’ outlook in policy processes. Some of the tools that she discussed were: Gender-sensitive Municipal Assessment Tool, which identifies gaps in municipal operational capabilities and social empowerment demands that align the empowerment approach that underpins the theoretical framework of her research; Gender Equality in Human Resource Development, which discusses gender-based capacity-building at institutional, departmental and individual levels, with adequate allocation for resources for skills development and women empowerment; Gender Mainstreaming in IDP Processes Checklist, which may assist policymakers to establish gender mainstreaming in the policy-making processes as a required output; Gender-based Representation in Local Government tool, which highlights the significant elements that require crucial consideration to realise the empowerment approach; and so forth.

Furthermore, because UJ is moving towards Pan-Africanised thinking, she started conducting comparative research with academics and scholars from various African Universities. Some of the areas that are explored and published are gender-based procurement practices in South Africa and Kenya; gender equality in the Water Sector in South Africa and Uganda; and the status and political participation of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to state a few. Some of the gender mainstream issues under consideration for future research include comparative studies with Ghana, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Nigeria.

She stressed that her aim was to advance gender research at national, regional and continental levels. In order to achieve this aim, she has developed networks with academics inside and outside the boundaries of South Africa. It is indeed a continuous process requiring broader collaboration. She concluded by stating that “this is just a beginning”.

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