MUT launches Gender Forum

Major drivers, Professor Nokuthula Sibiya, middle, seated, and Dr Paulette Naidoo, also seated, right; and supports of the Forum from DUT and the Office of the Premier

In a landmark event that took place off campus, on 31 May 2024; the University staff members launched their Gender Forum and elected the forum’s leadership. In terms of its Constitution, the Forum “shall strive to promote a gender inclusive and equitable institutional environment that is governed by ethical and informed leadership, and that is free from all forms of gender discrimination, harassment, and inequalities. A few months ago, Professor Nokuthula Sibiya, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, said there was a dire need for the Gender Forum which is expected to level the playing field.

According to Professor Sibiya, in any organisation there is a void if there is no platform that addresses gender-related issues. “For institutions of higher learning to be truly inclusive and transformative, appropriate platforms and spaces that allow for constructive engagement on gender-related issues need to be created,” said Professor Sibiya. Professor Sibiya played a leading role in the creation of the Gender Forum at the University. In her welcome speech, Professor Sibiya pointed out that she was not alone in creating the Forum. She thanked all her colleagues that made it possible for the Forum to take root. Professor Sibiya also said that the mission of the Forum was “to provide an authentic and meaningful platform for staff to engage on gender-related issues relevant to their professional lives and work experiences, for purposes of accelerating gender equity and transformation at MUT”.

According to Professor Sibiya, some of the objectives of the Forum are: to create opportunities for critical and constructive dialogue and reflection on gender-related issues within a safe, authentic, and professional environment; to empower and sensitize the MUT community on gender-related issues through staff empowerment and training, in collaboration with internal and external gender experts, networking and partnerships; to assist the Institution in identifying and helping to change gender-related misconceptions, attitudes, and behaviours, as well as institutional policies and practices that explicitly or implicitly violate the basic human rights and freedom of staff, and which compromise the achievement of an enabling, supportive and socially cohesive work environment at MUT; and to serve as a platform for staff to share their views and experiences on gender-related matters impacting on institutional operations, staff work experience and holistic wellbeing.

Professor Sibiya acknowledged the support from the previous Acting Vice-Chancellor who supported the project right from the onset.