Proudly Potchefstroom women achieved regional and national acclaim

Janet Potgieter and Prof. Elda de Waal at the CEO Global Awards for Africa’s most influential women, Photos: Provided
Janet Potgieter and Prof. Elda de Waal at the CEO Global Awards for Africa’s most influential women, Photo: Provided

Two proudly Potchefstroom women recently achieved regional and national acclaim at the CEO Global Awards for Africa’s most influential women in business and government.

Janet Potgieter and Prof. Elda de Waal were the regional winners from Potchefstroom. The awards ceremony took place in Johannesburg two weeks ago, giving continental recognition to influential African leaders in the SADC region.

CEO Global announced the African winners of various economic sectors in their countries and regions. The regional winners will go through to the finals in Johannesburg on 26 November.

Prof. Elda de Waal is also SADC’s regional winner. She is a professor at the NWU’s Potchefstroom campus and focuses her research on education and human rights in diversity (Edu-HRights) for the education and training sector in the Faculty of Education.

Although the West and Central prize-giving took place in Ghana, Janet Potgieter received her awards in Johannesburg for logistical reasons. Her work as the vice-president of an NGO called Latlong earned her the national award for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She is also the regional winner in the welfare and civil society sector for Central Africa.

Janet Potgieter is handing out toiletries to two women in Goma, DRC, who suffer from goitre disease.

Janet Potgieter is handing out toiletries to two women in Goma, DRC, who suffer from goitre disease. Photo: Provided

The adjudicators recognised Potgieter for her influential humanitarian work in the Congo, where she aims to make a difference in the lives of thousands of women and children.

‘The conflict in the DRC has claimed more than five million lives – making it the planet’s deadliest conflict since World War II. Although it has officially ended, much of the country remains desperately poor with horrific levels of sexual violence and millions of people displaced from their homes and schools,’ Potgieter said.

She says the ongoing conflict and widespread sexual violence in these eastern regions make it one of the most dangerous places on earth for a woman.

This is where Latlong comes in. Potgieter has travelled to Goma, North Kivu in the eastern DRC on many occasions to work on the different projects they have there. One of these is to provide women and young girls with sanitary wear and underwear.

Janet Potgieter in Goma. Photo: Provided

Janet Potgieter in Goma. Photo: Provided

Another is to reach, perform surgery on, heal and beautify millions of women who live with endemic goitre conditions in the Eastern DRC.
Potgieter is also working on a project to help a local orphanage in Sake, a small town 25 km from Goma.

‘The government does not offer any social assistance but John, a Congolese male who was an orphan himself, manages to look after the 105 orphaned, displaced and neglected children in his care. Approximately half of them live with him and his wife, sharing beds and clothing. The other half live in the community in child-headed households,’ Potgieter said.

These are only some of the projects she is involved with, in the war-ridden DRC.
Prof. De Waal is out of the country at the moment but the Herald will publish an article on her influential work as soon as she returns.

  AUTHOR
Marianke Saayman
Journalist

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