Indian-origin woman gets top honour in South AfricaNRI Top Stories

August 20, 2014 18:48
Indian-origin woman gets top honour in South Africa

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Indian-origin South African academician Leila Patel has been named as one of the top women researchers in the country. Leila Patel was honoured with the annual Women in Science Awards hosted by South Africa's Ministry of Science and Technology.

At present Patel is a professor of social development studies and director of the Centre for Social Development in Africa that had been founded by her in 2002 at the same institution. Leila Patel received her PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand.

The South African government hosts these annual awards in recognition of the work of women researchers, who are into full-time research and achieve a master's or doctoral degree in areas where the participation of women have been generally low.

Patel did pioneering research work in the field of social welfare in a post-apartheid country when the first democratic elections started in South Africa in 1994 post Nelson Mandela's release.

Patel's book 'Restructuring Social Welfare Options for South Africa' was published one year before the 1994 elections. Her book eventually led to social welfare legislations which adopted the new democratic parliament after three years.

In 2005, Patel was appointed director-general of the department of social welfare, from where she led a team which had the task of transforming the country's welfare system from the apartheid era that was a racial and unequal system.

Her second book, 'Social Welfare and Social Development in South Africa' published in 2005, has been a part of international writings. It seeks alternative model of development in the global south, aiming to reduce poverty, build human capacity and engage communities in a positive manner.

This year the Women in Science Awards went to women who had done pioneering research work in fields that included biostatistics, traditional medicine and agriculture.

(AW: Pratima Tigga)

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