12 January 2011

Africa ululates! Buhle's Award

By Philisiwe Joyce Myeza

Buhle's photoWe would like to congratulate Division V Chair, GB Member and Executive Director, Dr. Buhle Mbambo-Thata on being elected as the 2010 Unisa Woman of the Year at a prestigious UNISA Women's Forum (UWF) Luncheon on 13 October 2010.

The UNISA Women's Forum considered a number of portfolios of nominees
with outstanding performance across all sections in the University.
Criteria used by the UWF Adjudication Panel were: Leadership, Mentoring
women in the workplace, Gender Activism and promotion of women's
rights, Courage in adversity and Community service.

A brief summary of the motivation of the Panel stated the following:

Dr Mbambo-Thata is an outstanding scholar and activist in her field and
is recognized for her sustained contributions at local, regional and
international levels. Her professional career spans more than three
decades of distinguished service and exemplary leadership, and she has
achieved recognition internationally as a leader in her field.

It is her extraordinary and sustained leadership, peer recognition and
election to high offices, with substantive impacts, that impressed the
adjudication panel. She served as the Secretary as well as the
Chairperson of the IFLA Africa Section; she is a member of the IFLA Governing Board, and chairperson of Division 5 Regional Activities of IFLA.
In this role she co-ordinates the following sections - Africa, Latin
America and the Asia Oceania regions. This creates a unique and
influential opportunity for Unisa Library and its staff to actively
participate in developments and contribute to the federation
internationally. Indeed an example of "Unisa in the service of

Her four years at Unisa has seen the introduction of several major
strategic projects, including the Unisa Institutional Repository;
implementation of the Mobile Device Catalogue Access - AIRPAC - the
first of its kind on the continent; extended library hours to improve
student access and the implementation of Radio Frequency Technology
(RFID) to enable self services for clients as well as improving stock
management. The latter is a critical feature for the Unisa library,
given its size and scope. 2010 sees the library become one of the first
to use Mobile Libraries to extend the reach to rural areas and expand
Open Distance Library services beyond the major urban centers in the
country. Her work on Open Source and Open Access is also pioneering.

As the chair of the Board of Trustees of E-knowledge for Women in
Southern Africa (EKOWISA), she leads this NGO in its mission to promote
the development of a gender sensitive knowledge society through the
effective use of appropriate ICTs at local, national, regional and
international levels.

She also plays a leading role in the Gender Research and Women Studies
Project (GRACE) on the continent, and amongst others a most notable
Zimbabwean project on Gender and Research in Africa into ICTs for
Empowerment, initiated in 2005 involving 14 research teams across 12
countries to examine how women in Africa and the Middle East use ICTs to
improve their living conditions and to identify the barriers. In that
capacity, she has led various projects pitched at women in higher
education and consciously includes capacity development of young
professionals and academic women in qualitative and feminist research

In conclusion, the panel was convinced that Dr. Mbambo-Thata leads by
example, and that her phenomenal achievements are a source of
inspiration. As a compassionate and trained counselor, she manages to
impact positively on the lives and well-being of many of her
subordinates and peers. Her assertiveness, high standards and going the
extra mile to ensure the necessary resources to ensure success is

More information about Dr. Mbambo-Thata can be found in her interview with Emerald Group Publishers.

Africa, Awards

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