WSU honours alumna Justice Maya
LUA delighted Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judge president Justice Mandisa Maya received an honorary law doctorate honoris causa from her alma mater, the Walter Sisulu University, on Monday.
The judge graduated with her law degree from WSU, then Unitra, 33 years ago.
Maya, 55, addressed a crowd of graduands, parents, friends and members of the law fraternity who packed the WSU Nelson Mandela Drive campus Great Hall.
She said: “I have received many accolades from many institutions, but this one makes me shed tears of joy. It is closest to my heart.
“Preparing for today has been a grand event in my head, a sweet, sentimental trip down memory lane. When I sat down to think about what I would say to you a flood of memories and emotions washed over me. My reflections took me back to the university’s early days, its humble beginnings as the former University of Transkei [Unitra] and its odyssey over the years.”
She said the accolade was special because it recognised a woman working in a male-dominated and conservative field. “Despite greater numbers of women graduating from institutions of higher learning than men, the professions, including the judiciary, are populated and controlled by men,’’ said Maya.
She said the debate today was why tertiary institutions had so few black professors.
“I ask myself how many female professors do we have? The pace to diversify our institutions and make them representative of our society has been painfully slow. Women in the workplace in this country and across the world still have the odds stacked high against them.
Sexism and patriarchy remain firmly entrenched in society. The majority of working women across the world still suffer the unfairness and indignity of being paid far less than their male counterparts for the same work.
Two billion women are legally restricted from having the same jobs as men. Women must still fight to be taken seriously and acknowledged as equals to their male colleagues.
“Many lack legal protection from sexual violence and sexual harassment in the domestic and public spheres,’’ Maya said.
She said South African men bear the ignominious mantle of leading the world in perpetrating violence against women and children.
“So it remains a particularly big deal, in this day and age, for a woman to be recognised for her achievements in society.
And even though I am an interested party in this matter, I dare say that WSU must be commended for its courage and prudence in recognising the ability of women to participate competently in all spheres of society, the societal benefits attaching to the empowerment of women and the celebration of feminine achievement.”
Maya earned her BProc at WSU, an LLB at the University of Natal and an LLM from Duke University in the US.
She began her legal career in 1991 and was appointed to the high court bench in 1999. In 2017, she became the first woman president of the SCA and is now president of the SA chapter of the International Association of Women Judges.
During the same ceremony, the African Transformation Movement’s OR Tambo regional chairperson and former Unitra FM station manager Phumzile Gaba graduated with an LLB...