Prof Robert Balfour, deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning and patron of the GBN, says the network was established in 2017. “Some individual members participate through the donation of funds in support of student organisations, while others are active members, helping to organise events and assisting students,” he says.


Funding to support good ideas


“We could see early on that students struggled to raise funds for their activities at the NWU. As these groups are generally small, the capacity to support good ideas and initiatives that need funding is limited. These kinds of limitations often make it difficult for groups to organise and sustain themselves, let alone promote awareness of gender and sexual orientation issues among the student community.”


He says the NWU management recognises that a wide spectrum of the public support people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+), although they may not be part of this group. “We decided to set up a network of sympathetic individuals who contribute either in terms of time or money to support events and students.”


Participate in Women’s Month programme


Robert says the GBN, which supports activities on all three of the NWU’s campuses, is also instrumental in supporting the LGBTIQ+ events that take place throughout the year.


In early August, an exciting programme is planned for Women’s Month, with a particular initiative themed Gender Awareness Week (2 to 8 August). A range of different events such as student-staff workshops, seminars and an exhibition will be part of the proceedings.


“Everyone should be part of this very important initiative and can show their support through active participation and donations,” says Robert.



A group of students of the NWU’s campus in Vanderbijlpark recently held an LGBTIQ+ student event. Prof Robert Balfour, deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, was one of the guests.

The Gender Benefit Network (GBN) is a voluntary network of staff and students, and also people from outside the NWU, which promotes human rights in general and is specifically active in the area of gender and diversity at the NWU.

The fund is administered by the NWU through the university’s normal financial systems and is supported by the Office of Student Life and the administration of student societies.


Applications to use funding normally come from the chairpersons of the campus-based student groups, or from academics and staff keen to organise an event featuring gender awareness or issues relating to identity and representation.




For more information on the Gender Benefit Network (GBN), you can contact Prof Robert Balfour at 018 285 2106.  If you would like to contribute to the GBN fund, you can sign up for a debit order or make a deposit to the following account:

Account holder name: North-West University

Account name: NWU Diverse

Account number: 670642313

Account type: Cheque

Branch Name: ABSA Tom Street

Branch code: 632005

Swift code: ABSAZAJJ

Reference for your debit order: Campus Pride


Gender Benefit Network and LGBTIQ+ =

upholding human rights