2001• Woman of Distinction Award

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Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, the recipient of this years Woman of Distinction Award, has built a distinguished career on a foundation of optimism, activism and hard work.

Now a managing director of the World Bank, she is responsible for managing the institution’s human development activities in the areas of education; health, nutrition, and population; and social protection. She provides oversight and guidance to the Bank Group’s efforts with client governments in strengthening human development support systems.

Prior to joining the World Bank, Dr. Ramphele was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, a post she assumed in 1996, becoming the first black woman to hold this position at a South African university.

She joined the university as a research fellow in 1986, and was appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor five years later. During her tenure at Cape Town, she published books and articles on education, health, and social development issues.

Dr. Ramphele started her career in the 1970s as a student activist in the Black Consciousness Movement, and she has been honoured widely for her contribution to the struggle agains apartheid.

She has also worked as a medical doctor, civil rights leader, community development worker, and academic researcher. From 1977 to 1984, Dr. Ramphele was banished by the South African Government to the remote township of Lenyenye near Tzaneen.

There she continued her work with the rural poor and established the Ithuseng Community Health Program.

Dr. Ramphele has received numerous prestigious national and international awards.

These include 10 honourary doctorates acknowledging her scholarship, her service to the community, and her leading role in raising development issues and spearheading projects for disadvantaged persons throughout South Africa
Dr. Ramphele qualified as a medical doctor at the University of Natal in 1972. She holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town, a BCom degree in Administration from the University of South Africa, and diplomas in Tropical Health and Hygiene, and Public Health, from the University of Witwatersrand.

South African Women for Women is proud to recognize Dr. Ramphele for her energetic leadership, her commitment to excellence, and her continuing dedication to transforming the lives of those around her.