By Delia de Villiers
August this year marked the 50th anniversary of the historical women’s march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria and accordingly, 2006 has been declared the “Year of Women in
South Africa”. In celebration and recognition of the women who make a difference at Rhodes and in the broader Grahamstown community, the
Rhodes branch of Amnesty International organised the first Rhodes Women of the Year Award ceremony.
Nominations opened a few weeks ago. The awards ceremony took place on Wednesday, August 23 at Eden Grove. Janet Jobson, vice-president of Amnesty International and event-coordinator, said that the event aimed “to identify and honour the incredible women that exist at this university”. She pointed out that academia is traditionally male-dominated, even at
Rhodes, where up until last week’s appointment of Professor De Klerk as Dean of Students, there have been no female deans.
Any student or staff member was eligible for an award. The awards went to women who are not necessarily the ‘best’ but those who inspire others and make a difference in their specific fields. The selection panel was comprised of the Dean of Science, Proffessor Pat Terry; Catering Manager, Jay Pillay who represented the Women’s Academic Solidarity Association; Shantelle De Nobrega and Amnesty International members Janet Jobson and Aziza Mdee. The final awards were given to the following women. The Admin Staff award went to Anette Orsmond who works in the Recruitment and Selection division and has been at
Rhodes for 30 years. Desiree Wicks, of the Registrar’s Division, was acknowledged for her service to the university. In the research category two awards were given. The general research award went to Dr Janice Limson of the Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology Department. The Senior Research Award went to Professor Anne Edwards of the Psychology Department. Professor Tebello Nyokong of the Chemistry Department received a special recognition award and Carla Tsampiras of the History Department was the winner of the Teaching Award. The Staff Community Engagement Award went to Larissa Klazinga and Ingrid Andersen of the Centre for Social Development received the Special Recognition Award in this category. Dominique Schafer received the Student Community Engagement Award. 2005 SRC president Bryony Green received the Student Leadership Award while Bianca Camminga was also recognised in this category. Health Suite manager, Janet Kelly, received the Sports Award. Heike Gehring of the Drama Department was honoured for her contribution to the performing arts and Nomusa Makhuba for her contribution to the visual arts.
The evening seemed a success all round, as winner Janet Kelly said, “It is an awesome initiative,” and one that she would like to see continue. “It is great to be recognised by other people in the bureau”, said Desiree Wicks and added that the award was a big surprise. Audience members, Dave Winn, said that it was a “fantastic event and very well organised”. Jobson said: “The evening really proved that the simple act of honouring the work that people do can make a lasting impact.” She added that she hopes the university will take this initiative on board and continue to run it for years to come.