University of South Africa: Appreciating resilient women

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Appreciating resilient women
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Impressively closing Women’s Month, Unisa’s Executive Director for Protection Services, Major General Masego Botsheleng, held a celebratory event to appreciate women in protection services at the institution. Themed “You are not alone!”, the event was held on the last day of August to recognise the resilience and contribution of these women.


Major General Masego Botsheleng

In her welcome address, Botsheleng acknowledged that the protection services environment is emotionally taxing. She further acknowledged that it is a male-dominated field and that more needs to be done to recruit capable women in positions of power. Nevertheless, Botsheleng applauded these women as essential workers who risked their lives for the university’s safety during the Covid-19 pandemic and industrial actions. “This field requires discipline, a good attitude and a great work ethic. I perceive you as women who have taken up their positions in society,” she affirmed.

Botsheleng later spoke on the process of dealing with gender-based violence (GBV) and distinguished between being proactive and reactive when dealing with GBV. She assured the audience that Unisa offers support services for GBV victims and unpacked the process of reporting a GBV case to the police, such as victims providing a description of the perpetrator and identifying the crime scene to the investigating officer. She advised GBV victims not to be discouraged or scared to report such cases as some of them were proven through identity kits and deoxyribonucleic acid. Speaking on the cycle of abuse, Botsheleng remarked: “We need to have coping mechanisms and talk to others about our problems.”


Women, you are enough and worthy!

Kefilwe Morobane

Delivering the keynote address, Kefilwe Morobane, Founder and Managing Director of Giving Wings, encouraged women to find moments of joy to fill themselves up. She said: “As women in protection services, you can only become productive if you fill yourselves up.” She added: “You cannot always be strong as you are human, and you hurt too. You are not meant to carry the burden alone; ask for help to avoid burning out.” Morobane further encouraged women to surround themselves with people who could uplift them.

Morobane acknowledged that most women in protection services had big dreams outside their roles as security officers. She advised them to shift their perceptions about their jobs and honour their work as gifts from God. “Women, you are enough and worthy. Remember that you are important,” Morobane affirmed.


Support services and self-empowerment
Dr/Advocate Joyce Nkuna-Maleka, Unisa’s Employee Assistance Specialist under the Directorate of Employee Relations and Wellness, explained the university’s Employee Assistance Programme. The programme’s objectives include providing support and guidance, promoting wellness, contributing to the university’s social responsibility, and providing mechanisms for corrective action. Among others, Nkuna-Maleka spoke on their services and how to recognise when someone has a problem. She reiterated the pillars of wellness, including financial, occupational, emotional and intellectual wellness.



Women in protection services and other attendees happy to be at the celebratory event

The South African Police Service’s presentation focused on the different forms of GBV, its causes and aftereffects, and their services for victims. They also advised on identifying GBV warning signs from perpetrators, including controlling behaviour, poor communication, and isolating their victims from their loved ones. University of Johannesburg’s Director of Compliance, Risk and Enforcement, Busisiwe Mtsweni, encouraged women to support and empower each other instead of competing. “Historically, the protection services recruitment process was pro-men. Let us boldly recruit capable women as they can bring change in the field,” stated Mtsweni.

Prof Meahabo Magano, Acting Executive Director of the Department of Tuition Support and Facilitation of Learning and the Chairperson of Unisa Women’s Forum, motivated women to affirm themselves and embrace who they are. Magano said about women empowerment and mentorship: “Be a woman that fixes another woman’s crown without publicising it to the world.” From a man’s perspective, Johannes Matlala, Head of the Department of Protection and Security Services at the institution’s Sunnyside Campus, remarked that women in his field must have intellectual conversations as Unisa produces intellectuals. “Study hard and develop yourselves so you can take up leadership positions,” he said.

In conclusion, Marietjie Fourie, Unisa’s Investigation Officer, declared women as unique rocks that must be united.

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