UKZN Academic a Champion for UN’s Women’s Empowerment InitiativeGeneral

Dr Annah Bengesai.Dr Annah Bengesai.

College of Law and Management Studies Teaching and Learning Unit Head Dr Annah Bengesai is part of an international group of 170 women and men from developing and developed countries championing women economic empowerment under the United Nations Women’s Empowerment initiative.

The 2016-2017 Champions for Change are were selected from over 4 000 applicants from the private sector, civil society and academia. To qualify for the nomination, applicants had to campaign on a month long online rally on how they would contribute to women economic empowerment, this is how Bengesai’s social media initiative titled: “It starts with a girl: creating safe and healthier transitions” made the cut.

‘I created the Facebook page in 2015, it provides a platform to discuss some of the issues that hinder the achievement of girls, mainly focusing on reproductive health. This has always been an interest of mine and I was influenced to start this page after reading the 2014 UN Gap Report which focused on gender equality. I am also currently doing research on gender inequality in educational outcomes,’ said Bengesai.

Working in three groups namely, Advocacy and Social Media; Business Development and Skills Development the champions will be involved in a series of innovative initiatives both online and in their local communities over the next four months to promote women empowerment. Bengasai says she is looking forward to networking with academics and activists from all over the world.

‘This programme encourages networking with other academics and activists across the world. I am also working closely with a mentor from Empower Women, and this has been an opportunity for me to learn new skills. This initiative also increases my visibility and offers many opportunities for networking,’ she said.

For Bengesai being part of this programme will not only allow her to contribute to a cause she is passionate about but it will also contribute towards her research.

‘I am currently working on a research project surveying employability skills needed for women (in Zimbabwe and South Africa) to better access jobs as well as to become entrepreneurs . I will also be piloting a financial literacy course with the BCOM Foundation Students as part of their extra-curricula activities,’ she said.

Thandiwe Jumo