Wits Chancellor Dr Judy Dlamini leads from the front

Established by the Chancellor of Wits University, Dr Judy Dlamini, the Female Academic Leaders Fellowship (FALF) fund is contributing to the gender and racial transformation of the academic leadership at universities, with the initial focus over five years being at Wits. Dr Dlamini has committed one million rand as the seed fund for the programme.


The FALF targets an area that is least transformed in the higher education sector – the representation of African and Coloured South African women in academic and management leadership positions, and aims to raise fifty million rand as an endowment to support the initiative.


The funding will assist these 'Chancellor’s Fellows' in furthering their academic and leadership development in areas that have been identified as having a critical need for transformation, such as building research capacity to transform contributors to the body of knowledge across different disciplines; assisting development to qualify for promotions to positions of professoriate at the University; and assistance in developing and preparing to qualify for the assumption of a wide range of leadership positions at the University. 

Chancellor of Wits University, Dr Judy Dlamini, established the FALF fund

Female Academic Leaders Fellowship Fund

contribute to the gender and racial transformation of the academic leadership

Dr Dlamini is a medical doctor and academic, a leading businesswoman, entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. Her major attribute is creating and adding value to society and humanity. The Founder and Executive Chairman of the Mbekani Group, Dr Dlamini has worked in different sectors of the economy using her diverse skills sets and degrees in different subject areas.

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How the Fund works

The FALF board is chaired by Dr Judy Dlamini. The founding directors include respected scholars, Professor Loyiso Nongxa a South African mathematician, the former Chairperson of the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF) and a former Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal; and Professor Salome Maswime an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and Head of Global Surgery at the University of Cape Town.


The Board is responsible for initiating, spearheading and, in collaboration with Wits, implementing the FALF Programme. FALF will issue annual calls for applications from Wits academics. The Wits Transformation and Employment Equity Office shall provide administrative functions and infrastructure not already provided by Wits Foundation (WF) which are reasonably required to ensure a seamless and efficient implementation of the Programme.


The Wits Foundation Trust shall be principally responsible for receiving, managing and dispersing funds raised for the FALF Programme in accordance with all applicable laws, it's PBO status, and in a manner consistent with the ethical and transparency standards expected from a PBO of this nature, and shall promptly issue the relevant section 18A tax-deductible certificates to FALF in the prescribed form once the Funds are disbursed to the qualifying Academics. Funds raised for the Project will be deposited and held in a WF’s Investment Endowment Fund and WF shall prepare financial accounts and account separately to the FALF board as to the investment and management of the Funds by WF.  

Donor specific initiatives

FALF recognises that the scope described above may be outside the priority areas of some donors. It is for this reason that a research chair or centre of excellence in a specific area would be considered in partnership with the donor. As an example, a research chair that focuses on research in entrepreneurship with specific focus on black women as both leaders and beneficiaries of the project; an initiative to address the second pandemic in the country, namely, Gender Based Violence. Such projects require R10-15mil over a period of 5 years (R2-3mil per annum).

Why the Fellowship Fund is important

The proportion of women graduates, in South Africa, has increased over the past 20 years, making up 60% of graduates at junior and honours level; at Masters level the proportion has increased to 44.6% and at Doctorate level to 58.2% enrolment (DHET, HEMIS, 2017). In spite of these positive changes, women in leadership within institutions of higher learning are still underrepresented in South Africa.