Gender Awareness Week

Gender Awareness Week

Gender Awareness Week (GAW) has become an integral part of the university’s strategy of promoting diversity and inclusivity among students, staff and other stakeholders at NWU. The activities, sessions and presentations that take place fosters an awareness of, and engages with issues concerning gender and identity in diverse contexts. This year GAW took place from 8 - 12 August 2022 with "Gender as expressed through the Arts" as the theme. For several years, transdisciplinary approaches in teaching and learning, and research, have advanced holistic practices and aided in the dissemination of knowledge. Staff and students from all faculties and disciplines were encouraged to think of creative, innovative ways of engaging with gender in their own fields, drawing on inspiration from music, the visual arts, literature, architecture, philosophy and the greater arts community.

“Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.” –Barbara Januszkiewicz


NWU Orchestra (Performance 20 August 2022)

The NWU Symphony Orchestra will perform a work by Florence Price on 20 August 2022 as an extension of the Gender Awareness Week program. They will also be doing a profile on Florence Price.

Read more about the performance

Buy tickets


NWU PUK Choir (Online)

The NWU PUK-Choir will launch two new music videos to highlight female composers. The videos will be accompanied by profiles of the composers. The works are “Sing My Child” and “Stomp on The Fire” by Sarah Quartel and Andrea Ramsey.



Florence Price

Florence Price (1887-1953) is the first African American woman whose composition was performed by a symphony orchestra. Read more



Sarah Quartel

Sarah Quartel (1982-)'s compositions are internationally recognised & her composition "Sing my child" is part of the NWU Puk-Choir repertoire in 2022. Read more

View video for "Sing my Child," by NWU PUK-Choir




Andrea Ramsey

Andrea Ramsey (1977-) is an award-winning composer. Her composition "Stomp the fire" is part of the NWU PUK Choir repertoire in 2022. Read more

View video for "Stomp on the Fire," by NWU PUK-Choir



Gallery Exhibitions (In-person)

Feminism Ya Mang
Place: NWU Libraries (Potchefstroom, Vaal and Mahikeng Campuses)

Gender Terminology (Digital activity)

The availability of vocabulary to describe or talk about gender, in languages other than English, poses an interesting opportunity for a multilingual country like South Africa. The possibility of generating gender terminology, especially with input from community members, is very important. Two Digital Humanities researchers from the South African Centre for Digital Languages Resources (SADiLaR), Deon du Plessis and Benito Trollip, have been exploring this possibility the past few years. As part of Gender Awareness Week 2022 they are collaborating with the NWU Campus Pride Society to showcase some of the terminology that has been developed by different people or organisations for some of the South African languages, as well as the gaps in the terminology. Feel free to engage with them via email at and

Femmegineering and Modiragatse

The purpose of these two initiatives presented by the Faculty of Engineering is to change gender stereotypes through role models and other activities, and open STEM-careers to school learners who identifies as female. Modiragatse runs prior to GAW and ends on 9 August 2022. Read more:


Schedule for the week

MONDAY, 8 August

Health Sciences: Inter-campus Sports Day

Theme: We walk the rainbow talk 

Time: 10:00-13:00

  • Painting of zebra crossings in front of G16 (Potchefstroom Campus).
  • Great Hall Library (Mahikeng Campus)
  • Library (Vanderbijlpark Campus)
  • Exhibiting photo comic pics (visual art) in print in foyer area G20 (Potchefstroom Campus)

TUESDAY, 9 August

Health Sciences: Comic Art Exhibition

Time: 09:00-15:00

Theme: In Harmony for Health

  • Exhibition of photo comic pics in print in the foyer area G20 (Potchefstroom Campus)
  • Great Hall Library (Mahikeng Campus)
  • Library (Vaal Campus)

West Side Story Screening

Venue: Conservatory Hall, Building K1, Potchefstroom Campus
Time: 16:00

Prof Conroy Cupido briefly highlights how director and producer, Steven Spielberg, uses gender to expresses various themes in the movie West Side Story released in 2021. This will be followed by a screening of the movie. Refreshments will be available for attendees. Although the screening is free, please RSVP using the following link to confirm attendance.

RSVP here

WEDNESDAY, 10 August


Health Sciences: Comic Art Exhibition

Time: 09:00-15:00

Theme: In Harmony for Health

  • Exhibition of photo comic pics in print in the foyer area G20 (Potchefstroom Campus)
  • Great Hall Library (Mahikeng Campus)
  • Library (Vanderbijlpark Campus)


Student Arts Societies: Footprints

Time: 13:00-14:00

Venue: Wasgoedpennetjie Lane, Potchefstroom

Stalls for students to interact with and bringing attention to Gender Awareness issues.


Theology: Interactive Workshop

Time: 11:00 – 12:30

Venue: Faculty of Theology (Potchefstroom), Room 204 in Building K23

We intend to read and discuss a relevant passage from Scripture (such as one of the texts dealing with gendered violence), and then let attendees create artwork in small groups based on their understanding and feelings about the text, afterwards sharing and explaining the motivation for their creations with the larger group and then having a concluding discussion, especially on the themes raised by the artworks created.


Lecture Recital: LGBTQ+ Vocal Literature – Songs for Life

Time: 13:00

Venue: Conservatory Hall (Potchefstroom)

  • Invited performer: Prof Christian Bester (Northeastern State University, Oklahoma US)
  • Pianist: Prof Tinus Botha
  • Horn player: Jandré Lubbe

The purpose of this lecture recital is to provide an overview of selected LGBTQ+ classical vocal literature, with a special emphasis on Hubert du Plessis’ seminal song cycle, Vreemde Liefde, and provide resources for further exploration. With unique challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community, Prof Bester not only hopes to increase awareness of this body of literature, but also offer to students literature they can relate to, grow with, and be inspired by.

View a recording of the event


Article: LGBTQ Vocal Literature: Songs for Life

Bester, Christian. 

Journal of Singing; Jacksonville Vol. 77, Iss. 5, (May/Jun 2021): 619-632. (access for NWU students and staff with your credentials through the University’s database)


Transformation and Diversity with Current Affairs

What is Gender?

Presented by: Potchefstroom SCC

Venue: Amphitheatre (Potchefstroom Campus)


  • 17:00: Opening and Welcoming
  • 17:15: First Speaker (heterosexual female)
  • 17:30: Second Speaker (heterosexual male)
  • 17:45: Performance by The Blacknotes/Serenades/Divaco
  • 18:00 – 18:45 LGBTQI
    • 1. Dr Jean du Toit
    • 2. Grizannie van Wyk
    • 3. Campus Pride
  • 18:45: Performance by The Blacknotes/Serenades/Divaco
  • 19:00: Race & Gender & Disability (sociology)
  • 19:30: Thanks to Sponsors
  • 19:35: Closing

THURSDAY, 11 August

Health Sciences: Comic Art Exhibition

Time: 09:00-15:00

Theme: In Harmony for Health

Exhibition of photo comic pics in print:

  • Foyer area, Building G20 (Potchefstroom Campus)
  • Great Hall Library (Mahikeng Campus)
  • Library (Vanderbijlpark Campus)


Seminar: Claiming space for queer bodies in our churches – A journey

Venue: Building F20, Room G50, Potchefstroom Campus

Time: 11:00

Speaker: Dr Jean du Toit

Welcome: Mr Laurie Gaum

While most religions traditionally are male-structured asking you to ‘check in’ your body & sexuality at the door to the place of worship, this goes against the core values of many faiths. Laurie tracks his own story, the roots of the Christian faith, and how you can be supported to come out powerfully everywhere you are, also transforming faith spaces to be safer, welcoming and inclusive of all.

View a recording of the event


Seminar: The contribution of South African Queer women to the development of “Gayle”

Venue: Vaal Campus (Building D1, G03 “clubhouse”)

Time: 12:00

Speaker: Megan Williams

Welcome: Mr Rickus Stroh

This research aims to fill a long-existing gap in the Afrikaans queer-identifying women and non-binary individual's specific way of “queering” language as an expression of their identity and lived experiences. Within this focus, language is described as a tool used by these queer individuals to construct their gender and sexual identity and expression outside of the heteronormative expectations of society. The collection of the specific terms and phrases used will aid in answering the question of “how identity is signaled by the LGBTQIA+ speech community through language?”. This research provides needed exposure to a different way of using the language outside the ‘normative frameworks’ within the Afrikaans speech community. Furthermore, the idea of ‘performativity’ introduced by Judith Butler, will also be used to support the notion that just like gender, expected language use based on an individual’s biological sex is a construction of what society accepts as the “normative”. Therefore, this discussion will emphasise how queer women and non-binary individuals use language freely from social constructs to signal their identity. Within the sociolinguistic view of language, gender, and sexuality, linguistical data will be collected on what terms and phrases are used by this community and what is meant by these words within the context of the South African LGBTQIA+ community.

View a recording of the event


Seminar: Men, masculinity and patriarchal lies: a lecture in memory of Eudy Simelane

Venue: Vanderbijlpark Campus (Building D1, G03 “Clubhouse”)

Time: 13:00

Welcome: Mr Ricus Stroh

Invited Speaker: Prof Zethu Matebeni (University of Fort Hare), SARChI Chair in Sexualities, Genders and Queer Studies

This seminar conversation follows a provocative video lecture which pays homage to black lesbian soccer player, Eudy Simelane (11 March 1977 – 28 April 2008). In this hard-hitting conversation, Prof Zethu Matebeni interrogates the role of black men in society, offers a crucial critique of masculinity and the patriarchal lies that dominate how men see themselves and their relationships to others. Through a queer analysis, this lecture suggests that South Africa has been halted by a resistance to imagine a queer radical and liberatory politics.

View a recording of the event


Theology: Open Discussion

Time: 14:00-15:00

MS Teams Link

We want to focus on depictions of female figures in the Bible in art and the implications thereof; previous discussions have been on, for example, the juxtaposition of Eve and Mary in art and how they have been perceived in the Church throughout history and in the present. This will take the form of a more open discussion, although it will be led, and some themes raised (such as Eve and Mary in doctrinal reflection on sin).



Exhibition Opening: Feminism Ya Mang

Date: 11 August to 2 September 2022

Venue: Botanical gardens, Potchefstroom

Time: 18:00

Musical performances: NWU African Music Ensemble led by Dr Cara Stacey, featuring Dumza Maswana. Voices of the River Choir

Opening remarks: Prof Robert Balfour (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning)

Feminism ya Mang, Feminism Yethu, Feminism Yani is the visual exploration on how we define womanhood, sexuality, age and feminism; key themes that come with such an engagement; and the ways in which notions on gender and queerness can redefine our understandings.  By engaging with this complexity, the exhibition aims to celebrate the diversity of knowledge that contributes to our regional experience of Feminisms. We acknowledge that this notion is not static and is constantly being challenged by a myriad of lived experiences.

The exhibition reflects the diversity of experiences and expressions in being woman in spaces such as those represented in this installation. Home of Empty’s and Saloon explores the way in which woman engage with and exist within these realities. The installation texts particularly focus on some of the words, emotions and memories associated with the spaces and interrogates what this means in a local context.

Feminism Ya Mang, Yethu, Yani features works by Jodi Bieber, Amy Ayanda, Teresa Firmino, Helena Uambembe, Kelly Johnson, Lulama ‘Wolf’ Mlambo, Saaiqa, Santu Ramaisa, Jabu Newman.


Exhibition Opening: Attached to the Soil

Venue: NWU Gallery, Potchefstroom Campus

Time: 16:00

Musical performances: NWU African Music Ensemble led by Dr Cara Stacey, featuring Dumza Maswana. Voices of the River Choir.

“Attached to the Soil is a collection of 50 photographic portraits conceived in partnership between Peter Glendinning (Michigan State University) and a number of South Africans of all ages and social backgrounds. It tells the stories of these individuals, capturing their hopes, fears, aspirations and disappointments. It speaks of a people who are distinguished by their diversity, emanating as they do from a variety of racial, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds. All have been marked by the tragic history of racialized exploitation in this land. But all demonstrate in their activities, ambitions and voice how this tragedy did not scar their souls. All speak of a desire to belong to a cosmopolitan community, of an understanding that political community is established not by where its inhabitants come from,

but rather by their common intention to continue to belong to a community that resides in a specific geographical space”. Adam Habib

FRIDAY, 12 August

Health Sciences: Comic Art Exhibition

Time: 09:00-15:00

Theme: We all stand together

Exhibition of photo comic pics in print:

  • Foyer area G20 (Potchefstroom Campus)
  • Great Hall Library (Mahikeng Campus)
  • Vanderbilpark venue to be announced


Closing of exhibition: Releasing balloons with messages

Time: 13:00-14:00

  • Outside buildings G16 and G20 (Potchefstroom)
  • Great Hall Library (Mahikeng Campus)
  • Library (Vaal Campus)


Seminar: Claiming space for queer bodies in our churches – A journey

Venue: Building A1, Room 261 (Mahikeng)

Time: 13:00

Welcome: Dr Jean du Toit

Speaker: Mr Laurie Gaum

While most religions traditionally are male-structured asking you to ‘check in’ your body & sexuality at the door to the place of worship, this goes against the core values of many faiths. Laurie tracks his own story, the roots of the Christian faith, and how you can be supported to come out powerfully everywhere you are, also transforming faith spaces to be safer, welcoming, and inclusive of all.


Seminar: Acting with the posthuman body in the visual art of Christiaan Diedericks and the poetry of Andrew McMillan

Venue: Building F20, Room G50, Potchefstroom Campus

Time: 12:00

Speaker: Dr Louise Postma

Welcome: Dr Yolandi Coetser

A background and introduction open the discussion on multiple becomings by the queering of the multiple ways in which traditional thinking and behaviour are experienced. Listeners can join the analysis and become participants by sharing their personal awareness and experience of how the artist and the poet present and depict their personal perspectives. Their views are the manifestation of traditional and oppressive thinking and behaviour in multiple becomings of both artist and viewer. The theoretical introduction to the discussion is informed by posthumanist philosophy.

View a recording of the event


Seminar: “Balls”

Venue: Building F20, Room G50, Potchefstroom Campus

Time: 13:00

Speaker: Wemar Strydom

Welcome: Dr André Goodrich

Research on rugby’s socio-cultural and civil impact has grown exponentially over the last decade, with work appearing on how rugby coimbricates with xenophobia (Kelekay, 2019) and patriotism (Cleland & Parry, 2022), as well as with folkloric masculinity (Parry, Cleland & Kavanagh, 2019), diasporic belonging (Hawkes, 2019), and reconciliation (Mthonti & Valela, 2016). But, as Jaspir Puar and Amit S. Rai (2002) point out, civil-affective assemblages (of which we can take rugby to be exemplary in the South African imaginary) are near-always mediated, and as such it would be productive to consider how rugby - and its coimbrications detailed above - is represented in South African popular media. In this session, Dr Wemar Strydom offers such an overview, with consideration of popular film (with a focus on Modder en Bloed, dir. Sean Else, 2016), gendered expression awareness campaigns (the Jozi Cats’ 2010 poster drive), literary fiction (Fanie Viljoen’s Uit, 2014), and TV series (Getroud met rugby, 2016 onward).

View a recording of the event

Work cited:

  • Cleland, J. & Parry, K.D. 2022. Fair Go? Indigenous Rugby League Players and the Racial Exclusion of the Australian National Anthem, Communication & Sport, 10(1), 74-96
  • Hawkes, G.L. 2019. Diasporic Belonging, Masculine Identity and Sports: How rugby league affects the perceptions and practices, RMIT University PhD Thesis
  • Kelekay, J.L. 2019. “Too Dark to Support the Lions, But Light Enough for the Frontlines”: Negotiating Race, Place, and Nation in Afro-Finnish Hip Hop, Open Cultural Studies, 3, 386-401
  • Mthonti, F. & Valela, N. 2016. “So over the rainbow, rugby and reconciliation”, The Conversation, 02 March
  • Parry, K.D., Cleland, J. & Kavanagh, E. 2019. Racial folklore, black masculinities and the reproduction of dominant racial
  • ideologies: The case of Israel Folau, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 55(7), 850-867
  • Puar, J.B. & Rai, A.S. 2002. Monster. Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots, Social Text 72, 20(3), 117-148


Bua! Poetry Session: School of Languages

Venue: Heimat Hall (Potchefstroom Campus)

Time: 6:30 pm for 7pm


Limited transport and accommodation available for students from Mahikeng and Vanderbijlpark campuses, RSVP essential.

The famous poet Amanda Gorman said: “Poetry and language are often at the heartbeat of movements for change.” The inaugural Bua! Poetry Session on Friday 12 August in Potchefstroom aims to start a heartbeat for change by creating a gathering space for poets from all walks of life. The sessions will promote multilingualism and showcase diverse forms of contemporary poetry by inviting some of the foremost poets working in South Africa today. Featured poets include award-winning Afrikaans poet and performer Jolyn Phillips, The Sapient from Ikageng, who works across various languages, and the renowned artist Makhafula Vilakazi who in 2021 released a new EP entitled “Concerning Blacks”. The evening will be hosted by Cape Town-based poet and cultural change agent Allison-Claire Hoskins and will also feature open mic performances by local poets – signups on the night. The session takes place at the Heimat Hall (building F9) on the Potchefstroom campus of the North-West University and starts at 18:30 for 19:00. The event is free, but RSVP is essential as only a limited number of seats are available. Proudly hosted by the NWU School of Languages.

Gender Awareness Week 2022 Student Competition

Students stand a chance of winning three prizes to the value of R3000 by entering the Gender Awareness Week 2022 competition. Students can submit videos describing how they experience their gender identity and what gender identity means to them. See the video for more details.


Submit your entries here

Competition winners

Honourable mentions

Contact details for enquiries