Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, UCT's incoming Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation, was awarded the prestigious Businesswoman of the Year Award in the education category on Sunday night.
The annual awards are managed by the Businesswomen's Association (BWA) of South Africa, and recognise the contribution of women in the fields of education, social entrepreneurship, and science and technology.
Phakeng was awarded for, among other things, her work as founder of the Adopt-a-learner Foundation, which provides financial and educational support to students from township and rural areas, enabling them to acquire higher education qualifications.
A B2 NRF-rated scientist, Phakeng joined UCT on 1 July 2016. She was previously at Unisa where she turned around the research enterprise from focusing solely on increasing the number of research outputs produced to ensuring excellence, transformation and sustainability.
In 2008, she became the first African woman to be appointed to co-chair a study commissioned by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction. Phakeng holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of the Witwatersrand, and has won several awards for her research and community work, including the Order of the Baobab, Silver.
On receiving the award, Phakeng said: “While this award recognises me as an individual, I am very aware of the fact that nobody succeeds on their own, so I am forever grateful to the many people who supported, advocated, opened the way for me as well as those who criticise me because they all contribute the human being that I am and the woman that I am constantly becoming. I hope this award serves as a reminder to all young black women from township and rural areas that there is nothing wrong in being ambitious and dreaming big as long as one is willing to work hard to achieve one's dreams.”
Farzanah Mall, president of the BWA, said, “The BWA congratulates all the finalists and winners of this year's awards. These are all outstanding leaders both in terms of their respective business achievements as well as who they are as people.”
“The finalists and winners do, to a much greater degree than most, instill hope in those they lead and interact with, and practise being relevant and authentic, which is why they stand out among their peers. We are proud of our continued association with BWA and the ongoing advocacy work it undertakes to promote the role of women in leadership,” said Wrenelle Stander, senior vice president for Public Affairs and Real Estate Services at Sasol.
UCT Chancellor Graça Machel was also honoured at the event with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Story Natalie Simon. Photo Supplied.
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