Chirwa, who is the media and communications officer at the national EFF Students’ Command, told M&G that her efforts combine activism with politics and governance. “My greatest challenge is being in a male-dominated space. Patriarchy is the order of the day in all spheres,” she said.

Among other programmes that fight for the dignity of black women in South Africa, Chirwa has initiated a sanitary towel campaign at the University of Limpopo, where she birthed #ThisIsMyVagina – a call for women to reclaim their bodies as their own.

Pursuing her PhD in Chemical Technology at UP, Boitumelo Mashangoane has her own company called Mashnco which focuses on the use of innovative and green technologies in water treatment and management sectors. Mashnco also offers consultancy to the water sector. Recorded in the Science and Technology section, M&G states that Mashangoane’s project has “minimum to non-existent environmental risks compared with other methods.”

Dr Madeleine Combrinck is also recognised for her contributions to the science and technology field. With her UP obtained PhD in Mechanical Engineering specialising in aerodynamics, Combrinck sits on the Council of the Aeronautical Engineering Society of South Africa. She is also a member of the technical committee of the South African Ballistics Organization.

“Most people who study mechanical engineering do it so they can learn how to put everything they’ve taken apart over the years back together,” Combrinck told M&G. Her love for maths, science and exploration, coupled with an aptitude test led her to mechanical engineering.

Combrinck said that her “single biggest challenge” was conquering her own mind. She urges that it is important to take every thought captive and “take care of any negative thoughts so you can persevere through all challenges”.

Dr Anastasia Tomson is a medical doctor and an author who is recognised for her activism regarding transgender issues. Having obtained her medical degree at UP, she was awarded the Mandela-Washington fellowship in 2016 and is currently a registrar with the National Health Laboratory Services.

Acknowledged for her efforts by being listed under the “Health” section of the M&G list, Dr Tomson, a transgender woman, has identified gaps in the understanding of the LGBTIQA+ community’s needs by policy makers and service providers.

M&G describes her as “instrumental” in the formation of the Professional Alliance Combating Transphobia (PACT). Her involvement with this organisation allows her to regularly speak at schools, conferences and university courses.


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