Dialogue inspires conversations on equity, diversity and inclusion

By Kgaugelo Selane

4 September 2023

“Women can become instrumental in innovation to produce change in a world where sustainable development requires profound transformation in thinking, in economic and social structures and in consumption and production patterns.”

This was the shared view of women who attended the Women in Innovation and Leadership Dialogue, hosted by the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in partnership with the City of Tshwane (CoT) at the Pretoria Campus, on 30 August 2023.

This year’s theme was centred around Innovate for Impact: Celebrating Women Leading in Technology and Innovation

The keynote address delivered by Ntsiki Mkhize, founder and Chief Social Entrepreneur of MentHer, highlighted the significance of creating opportunities for women to excel. She emphasised the need to explore the challenges and opportunities that women in Africa encounter, particularly in the realms of innovation and sustainability. She stressed that: “Achieving gender equality and empowerment relies on universal access to education, mentoring and skills development.”

Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, TUT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement, highlighted the relevance of the dialogue’s theme in promoting critical thinking about transformative changes benefiting women. 

“According to World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) data released in March 2023, it is estimated that only 16.2 percent of inventors listed in international patent applications were women in 2022. While numbers are rising, progress is slow. Bringing women into technology will results in more creative solutions and greater potential innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality. Their lack of inclusion, by contrast, comes with massive costs. Whilst, also talking about equality, I would also like us to reflect on a matter of equity, as the country, we seem to have made enormous strides in addressing equality but without equity we have not won the battle.”

“What I mean is, we can provide equal opportunities to everyone, but if their circumstances are not the same, the impact won’t be realised”, said Papu-Zamxaka.

Throughout the event, various discussions delved into topics such as the impact of women in society, cultivation and nurturing of appropriate ecosystems and value chains in support of women contributing towards innovation chasms. The event also highlighted equity with ideas to action through programmes specially designed to uplift women forging innovation.

Panel discussions included notable speakers such as Karabo Mohale, Deputy Chairperson at the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA); Dr Phuti Chelopo-Mgobozi, Acting Senior Manager and Innovation Specialist: Bio-Economy Unit, Innovation Hub; Tumi Mashabelo, Managing Director of Tshaya Mashabela Attorneys; 

Nompumelelo Mcwabe, Director of M&E Sustainable Solutions; Jadene Anamala, founder and Creative Director of Minimil (PTY) Ltd; Lethabo Manaka, an Innovator; Thato Morokong, Assistant Director at Africa Multilateral Cooperation, DSI and  Elizabeth Masoleng, Enterprise Development Associate and TUT.

Acknowledging the attendees and the University for a remarkable partnership with the City of Tshwane, Thabisa Mbungwana, Acting Group Head, City Strategy and Organisational Performance at CoT, said partnerships are key to accelerate industry-wide change and to remove the barriers to the advancement of women and girls in innovation, technology, entrepreneurship and leadership.

 “Through this partnership, our strategy in women’s innovation is to building market awareness, investment and industry-wide actions to grow an innovation market that advances gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. Also developing tools and methodologies with industry partners to take a gender-responsive approach to innovation; promoting women as innovators and entrepreneurs; and investing in innovations and technologies that meet the needs of women,” she said.

Please click here to access the live stream.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711    Email: tshisikhawerpt@tut.ac.za