University of Pretoria: UP signs MoU with Margaret McNamara Education Grants to fund female postgraduate students

The University of Pretoria (UP) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with US-based non-profit organisation Margaret McNamara Education Grants (MMEG).

The agreement documents the partnership between UP and the MMEG with regard to the receipt and disbursement of MMEG grant funds to selected grantees for the 2023, 2024 and 2025 academic years.

MMEG’s mission is to provide financial resources to women from developing countries to complete their academic degrees, with the expectation that the recipients are committed to working to improve the well-being of women and children.

“We are fortunate to be associated with an organisation that works to empower women by supporting the specialisation of their knowledge, so that they may contribute to building a more equitable world,” said UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe. “The MMEG believes in the power of one woman who, through her actions, will impact hundreds of others. This vision of empowering a few to help the many is one that the University and MMEG share, and there is little wonder that the two parties have had a relationship since 2007. Your mission of empowering exceptional, driven women serves to strengthen ours.”

Every December, the MMEG awards grants for the following academic year. Out of 10 South African awards, eight female postgraduate students from UP were recipients for the 2022 academic year, and will receive grants to the value of US$7 000 (about R107 000) each.

The MoU stipulates that the MMEG and UP will jointly award grants to deserving candidates pursuant to the MMEG grant approval process.

Under this agreement, the MMEG has agreed to fund 50% (US$3 500 – about R54 000) of up to three grants a year for three years, while UP has agreed to annually select up to three candidates from the list of successful MMEG grantees and fund 50% (US$3 500) of three grants a year for three years, among other administrative tasks.

The MMEG was created 40 years ago as a not-for-profit public charity to award a grant to an exceptional woman from a developing country studying at an accredited institution in the US and Canada. “In 2007, MMEG expanded its search for extraordinary women by creating a programme for selected universities in South Africa, and UP was one of them,” said MMEG President Madeleine de Kock.

During the signing ceremony, she said UP has been supportive in encouraging women students from developing countries who adhere to the grants’ eligibility criteria to apply and in dispersing the funds to the students. “MMEG and UP’s wonderful and very successful relationship reflects UP’s acknowledgement of the high standard and competitive nature of the MMEG selection process and our similar goals of building a better world for all,” De Kock said.

“The focus of the MMEG is to empower women who seek to do research on the empowerment of women and children,” said 2022 grant recipient Irene Mpofu. “As someone who has had to interact with systems for my own community, I have seen first-hand how there are no more resources to feed children, create shelters for survivors of gender-based violence, and provide healthcare for women and children. It is an honour to be surrounded by a community that is passionate about the empowerment and betterment of women across the world.”

“This means my potential as a scholar is seen, that I [a black woman from a developing country] am seen,” added Phila Nxumalo, another grant recipient. “It also means that the spaces that I will be researching, and the women who are usually unseen and excluded in discourses of vulnerability on sexual violence in religious communities will be seen and heard.”

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