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Engender’s Board of Directors (Management Committee)

(More detailed information on members provided further below)

Engender’s Management Committee (Board of Directors) is incredibly diverse, with members from across South African society sectors, and one leading organisational development and human resources expert based in the United States. Members’ expertise include research; human rights and gender activisms; law; organisational development, management and human resources; programme management; as well as media, film and documentation.

Engender’s staff and Directors have devoted their lives to strategic interventions on the issues of violence and gender equity in order to bring about a better future in South Africa, and a model for other parts of the world. This work has been recognised and supported by many people, including Ricardo Wyngaard, formerly of the Legal Resources Centre, who arranged the registration of Engender as a certified non-profit organisation, and Lesley Ann Foster, founder and Director of Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre in East London, a leading local and international gender activist, who writes: “We always need support and affirmations in this difficult struggle of ours. You continue to inspire me with the amazing work which you do.”

Engender's Director and Project Leader

Bernedette Muthien

Bernedette Muthien has already established a local and international reputation for her work (writing and facilitation) on issues of gender equity, nonviolence, and gender-based violence in South Africa and further afield. She is the author of more than 160 publications and conference presentations on all 6 continents during the past 18 years. Her professional memberships include the Western Cape Network on Violence against Women; the pan-African gender network, Amanitare; the Women’s International Network on Gender & Human Security, the Association for Women in Development (AWID), as well as the International Peace Research Association, whose Global Political Economy she has convened since 2000. She serves on several international advisory boards, including Digital Universe – Human Rights Portal, as well as the international journals Human Security Studies.

Bernedette was the first Fullbright-Amy Biehl fellow at Stanford University (1994-1995), and holds postgraduate degrees from the University of Cape Town (Dean’s Merit List), and Stellenbosch University (Andrew W Mellon Fellow, 2006-2007) in South Africa.

She is co-founder of an indigenous scholar-activist network, the KhoeSan Women’s Circle, in addition to convenor of an international listserv of Native scholar-activists, Gender Egalitarian. Her current research centres on the Egalitarian KhoeSan – Beyond Patriarchal Violence, in other words, how social and gender egalitarianism are coterminous with nonviolence, as well as showing that nonviolent and egalitarian societies have existed throughout time and continue to exist at present.

Bernedette is a South African woman of colour who has devoted her life to strategic interventions on the issues of violence and gender equality in order to bring about a better future in South Africa, and a model for other parts of the world. Bernedette’s full resume is readily available on request.


Board of Directors (Management Committee)

Waheeda Amien

Waheeda Amien

Dr Waheeda Amien (BA LLB (Cape Town) LLM (Western Cape) Ph.D. (Ghent)) is Co-Founder and former Chairperson of Engender. She is currently Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town. Her specializations include Legal Pluralism, Human Rights, Muslim Personal Law, Gender Equality and Freedom of Religion.

Waheeda is also an Attorney of the High Court of South Africa and previously worked as: a Public Interest Lawyer for the Legal Aid Board; Researcher for the then South African Parliamentary Welfare and Population Development Portfolio Committee; Researcher and Trainer at the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit (University of Cape Town); Legal Clinician, Family Lawyer and Assistant Director at the University of the Western Cape’s Law Clinic; Researcher at the Human Rights Centre (Ghent University); and Acting Director of the Human Rights Research and Advocacy Project for the National Association of Democratic Lawyers of South Africa (NADEL).

Waheeda is involved with several other human rights organizations including being the Co-founder and Trustee of Shura Yabafazi (‘Consultation of Women’), Chair of the Recognition of Muslim Marriages Forum, Board Member of the African Institute for Migrant Workers and Member of the Commission for Legal Pluralism, NADEL, Western Cape Network on Violence Against Women, Association of Women in Development, Musawah and Women Living Under Muslim Laws.

Watch on Youtube Episode 5 (series 2) of I am a woman - Leap of faith in which dr Amien is interviewed.

Nneheleng Koali

Nneheleng Koali hails from Matatiele, a rural village bordering Lesotho. Her passion for conservation and the environment led to her studying Nature Conservation at the former Port Elizabeth Technikon and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She is currently a BSc Honours candidate at the Department of Environmental Sciences of the University of South Africa.

She has worked for the municipality, provincial and national conservation agencies. Her community contributions include opening a cycling club branch of the Life Cycling Academy in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. She served as a Club Manager, recruiting from the streets boys and girls of ages 13 to 18 years to participate in the development cycling programme to become cyclists. She has worked as a Research Assistant in the Conservation Biology Unit of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) at the Kirstenbosch Research Centre in Cape Town.

In 2006 she joined the Drakenstein Municipality in Paarl, where she managed Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve and the conservation areas within the municipal area. Apart from managing the nature reserve, she also engaged with local schools in environmental education and awareness in Paarl. In 2008, she worked as a Biodiversity Stewardship Officer for the South African National Park, at the Garden Route National Park in Knysna, where she promoted conservation worthy land of private farms that borders the national park.

Employed by the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board, Nneheleng currently holds a position in Ecology, within the Regional Ecological Support Team of the Western Cape. Her responsibilities include co-ordinating the implementation of the ecological programmes, promoting quality biodiversity data collection from nature reserves and facilitating the Protected Area Management planning in the Cape Metropolitan Area.

Amanda Nodada

Amanda Nodada is a poet, writer, performer and a radio personality who recently published her IsiXhosa poetry anthology called Isililo. Amanda studied Performing Arts at Community Arts Project, followed by a Bachelors degree in Languages and Communications from the University of the Western Cape.

Amanda has worked for various local organisations like Radio Zibonele and Cape Community TV as a volunteer news reader. Amanda performed at the 2010 Cape Town Book Fair, the opening of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (2009) and the Women's Project hosted by the National Parliament (2008).

Mandisa Zitha

Mandisa Zitha was born in the small North West town of Mafikeng during the period of the 1976 June 16th uprisings. She developed her passion for the arts while attending a liberal high school, where she revelled in storytelling in all forms. A short stint in the concert promotion and music industry honed her production skills and led her to the film industry and the position of administrator of the Independent Producers’ Organisation.

As the facilitator for Women of the Sun, Mandisa resurrected the organisation through a membership drive, weekly newsletters, screenings and the African Women’s Festival. At that time, the organisation initiated a short film series for emerging women filmmakers. Mandisa developed strong production skills as a production manager in Total Eclipse’s short film series commissioned for SABC3. Feeling the need to evolve and attain a more holistic approach to film, Mandisa decided to pursue a degree in Film and Media at the University of Cape Town, majoring in scriptwriting and documentaries.

She received the class medal for her Senior Project based on a radio script. Mandisa’s quiet passion and determined focus is evident in the success of the projects she undertakes. She brings both production experience and academic skills to the Encounters festival, and to Engender’s Management Committee, as Chairperson since 2009.






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I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.

Helen Keller



There are two ways to meet life; you may refuse to care until indifference becomes a habit, a defensive armor, and you are safe — but bored. Or you can care greatly, and live greatly — till life breaks you on its wheel.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher





What is more fluid, more yielding than water? Yet back it comes again, wearing down the rigid strength which cannot yield to withstand it. So it is that the strong are overcome by the weak, the haughty by the humble.

Lao Tse



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