Sol Plaatje University outlines policies on female staffing, gender-based violence

Professor Yunus Ballim, Vice-Chancellor of Sol Plaatje University told the Commission for Gender Equality hearing on gender transformation in institutions they had started to make progress in increasing the number of women in top and senior management.
Professor Yunus Ballim, Vice-Chancellor of Sol Plaatje University told the Commission for Gender Equality hearing on gender transformation in institutions they had started to make progress in increasing the number of women in top and senior management.
Image: Penwell Dlamini

The Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape has started making progress in increasing the number of women in top and senior management in compliance with the country’s laws.

This was revealed during a presentation made by the university before the Commission for Gender Equality hearing on gender transformation in institutions of higher learnings on Tuesday.

Vice-chancellor Yunus Ballim told the commission that female representation at top and senior management had increased from 11% in the 2017/2018 financial year to 33% in the 2018/2019.

The university that is based in provincial capital of Kimberley has also increased the number of female representation in its student representative council from 10% to 30%.

“We still want to see a higher representation of women in top and senior management than we currently have. We also want our SRC to ultimately have at least 50% female representation,” said Ballim.

The commission is conducting the hearings to investigate how universities are doing in developing policies that respond to gender transformation, sexual harassment, gender based violence,  provide access for people with disabilities and protecting the rights of the LGBTI community.

The university, named after intellectual and politician Sol Plaatje, was formed in 2013 and began its academic programme the next year.  It started with just 124 students but that has increased its student body to 2,000. About 59% of its student population is female.

“We have disabled students at the universit, [mainly] students in wheelchair and partially sighted students."

Ballim also indicated that some of the partially sighted students might also need to see an optometrist or other eyecare specialists and the university provides assistant where possible.

However, Ballim said the university had no capacity to help blind and deaf students access education at the institution.

“We expect to develop that capacity but for now we don’t have it.”

Ballim told the commission that policy on gender-based violence policy was still under development.

The university has, however, reviewed its policy on sexual harassment to include students. Previously, sexual harassment policy only focused on university staff.

“We have also added another category on this policy. We’ve allowed members of the general public who experienced sexual harassment from our students and staff to report it to us for investigation.”

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