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UJ programme equips women for leadership roles

The Women’s Leadership Development Programme is an important facet of our fight for equality.  

This statement was echoed by Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), during the unveiling of the UJ Women’s Leadership Programme (WLDP) at the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) on March 18, 2024. Now entering its fourth cohort, this initiative is dedicated to empowering senior women occupying leadership positions in academia and support functions.

Statistics highlight gender gap: need for action

Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi – Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of Johannesburg

Professor Mpedi’s presentation highlighted a persistent gender pay gap in South Africa, drawing on data from Statistics South Africa’s 2019 ‘Inequality Trends’ report. The report revealed that despite efforts to achieve equality, women significantly trail behind men in earnings across education levels. Women with no education earned only 54% of what men earned, and the gap remained substantial even for those with tertiary degrees (63% of men’s earnings).

This data underscores the critical role of initiatives like the WLDP.

Prof Mpedi added that creating a more level playing field required a reconfiguration of ‘not only our structures, systems and support, we have to fundamentally rethink our world’.

“Gender inequality still persists because of our inability to fully embrace this process.

Speaking on UJ’s leadership landscape, Prof Mpedi emphasised how UJ was responding to the clarion call to tackle gender inequality head-on at an individual level, an institutional level, a national and an international level through various initiatives.

Speakers advocate for women in leadership

Speakers at the launch of UJ’s WLDP programme reinforced the need for greater female representation in leadership. JBS Dean, Professor Randall Carolissen, emphasized that achieving true progress requires women’s unique perspectives, particularly on critical issues like climate change and food security.

Dr. Stella Bvuma

Dr. Suzanne Graham, Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations, highlighted the programme’s role in helping women “position” themselves for leadership success.  She explained how WLDP equips participants to strategically develop their personal brands and communicate their vision effectively.

Adding a personal touch, Dr. Stella Bvuma, a WLDP alumna, shared how the programme boosted her confidence and leadership skills.  She emphasized the importance of vulnerability, collaboration, and self-belief in achieving leadership potential.

Overall, these perspectives underscore the WLDP’s significance in addressing the gender gap and empowering women to thrive in leadership roles.

Ms. Nonkululeko Gobodo on authentic leadership

Guest Speaker Ms Nonkululeko Gobodo, CEO and Founder of Awakened Global, addressed the attendees on authentic leadership and women’s perspective in higher education.

Ms Nonkululeko Gobodo CEO and Founder of Awakened Global

“We have to be intentional about developing women. If we are to address the big problem of gender inequality, we have to be intentional. Higher education is our only lever for transformation. Without it, we cannot achieve our goals. For women it is even harder because we have to make hard choices.”

Ms. Gobodo shared her personal experience of balancing motherhood and pursuing her CA studies, demonstrating the tough choices women often face. “Stay the course,” she urged the attendees, “despite the challenges.” She concluded by underlining the critical role of ethical leadership in organisational success.

*Ms Gobodo is a multi-award winning accomplished individual and will be conferred an Honorary Doctoral degree in April during the Autumn/Winter graduation season.

Programme integrator Mrs Sarika Joy highlighted the need for executive education.

She said the programme will navigate the complexities of working in a technologically advanced world and what that means for leaders and investing in people among other developmental needs.

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