UKZN Town Planning lecturer and SARChI Chair in Inclusive Cities Professor Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu has been named as one of the finalists of the Mail & Guardian’s 2022 Power of Women listing under the category of The Governing Woman.
The initiative honours exemplary South African women by recognising their professional achievements.
The final 50 Powerful Women chosen this year are a niche selection of change-makers and industry influencers who have made a positive, notable impact in their respective sectors of academia, agriculture, business, communities, healthcare, mining, media/telecommunications and sport.
‘It is an honour to be recognised by the Mail and Guardian as a Governing Woman for 2022,’ said Magidimisha-Chipungu. ‘This motivates me to work hard to encourage other young scholars to never take for granted any opportunity that comes their way. No matter how small the task is, always bring the complete you,’ she said.
Magidimisha-Chipungu has a long list of titles and accolades to her name, including being a National Planning Commissioner as appointed by the President of South Africa; a National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated researcher, and a South African Research Chairs’ Initiative Chairperson for Inclusive Cities.
She has also served as a city planning commissioner for the eThekwini Municipality with the responsibility of strategically advising the executive committee and councillors and was also on the advisory committee of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, where she advised the Office of the Premier in KwaZulu-Natal on spatial equity.
She was also nominated for a Vice-Chancellor Research Award at UKZN.
At a global level, Magidimisha-Chipungu served the International Society of City and Regional Planning (ISOCARP) in co-directing the first workshop for Young Professional Planners (YPP) in South Africa in 2016, and was recognised as the most influential woman by the United Kingdom’s The Planner magazine under the Royal Institute of Town Planners. She was honoured by the ISOCARP President with BRONZE membership – a first for Africa – for the outstanding role she played during ISOCARP 57 and 58 in Doha.
Magidimisha-Chipungu says she has learned in life that you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. ‘I have fallen several times in my life but I refused to remain on the ground. It’s not how many times I have fallen, but how many times I got up afterwards. That is how I measure my success,’ she said.
Commenting on the concept of group supervision at UKZN which she has had great success with, she said: ‘In my field, innovation is often seen as the ability to create value for use by others, and this has been my strategy when reaching out to others. One of my innovative interventions focuses on ways to enable a greater number of students to complete their master’s degree programmes in a relatively short period of time, without flouting University regulations.
‘The approach of group supervision removes the element of solitude among students, and helps to boost morale. The graduation of many students in a relatively short space of time is enough testimony to the success of this intervention. However, it must be noted that for the group supervision strategy to work it requires both students and lecturers to be committed. Without both the commitment of both parties it is doomed to fail.’
Magidimisha-Chipungu, who is also the founder and chief editor of the Journal of Inclusive Cities and Built Environments, says if she could achieve one thing for South Africa, it would be to ‘make cities more inclusive, smart and resilient’.