HeForShe IMPACT Champion

Adam Habib

Principal & Vice Chancellor
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Learn more about their latest progress

IMPACT Commitments

Develop a comprehensive system to report, predict, prevent, and address gender-based harm on Wits’ campus.

We need a comprehensive and robust system to address the problem of campus-based violence and gender harm. Wits is taking an innovative approach, creating a standalone Gender Equity Office that will: encourage reporting on gender-harm complaints, aiming to drive up the number of reported cases in the first year; continually analyze complaints; annually publish a report on campus trends and incidents to inform and improve preventative measures; provide dedicated support to complainants and victims of gender-based harm; and adjudicate complaints using a gender-sensitive disciplinary procedure.

Use non-traditional supporters to mainstream gender equality at Wits.

Wits will launch an innovative grassroots campaign to identify and mobilize gender equality advocates. A series of ‘ambush lectures’ will take over classes and meetings, ensuring that gender equality messages reach the skeptics as well as the supporters. Equality will be integrated into the student experience, by identifying and connecting a web of gender change agents from student residences to social and sports clubs. To complement these innovative programs, Wits will provide compulsory eLearning and in-person gender sensitization courses.

Increase the representation of women staff in the context of South Africa’s complex ‘dual diversity’ mandate.

Wits’ staff composition reflects apartheid’s racialized and gendered legacy; one recent study noted that there are only 28 female black South African professors across the whole country. In this context, Wits has reached an impressive overall faculty complement of 54% women, but women remain under-represented in leadership —31% of the executive management team, 22% of the heads of school, and 27% of professors are women. Wits will increase the representation of women in heads of school roles to 32% by 2019; increase the representation of women in professorships to 30% by 2019; and ensure gender parity in the executive management team by 2019.

1. A distinction is drawn at Wits between academic staff (faculty) and professional/administrative staff. Academic positions range from Researchers and Junior Lecturers, through Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Associate Professors, to Professors and Heads of School. Professional / administrative staff range from grades 17 (the lowest) to 1 (the Vice Chancellor)."