Social entrepreneur, gender activist and global director of the International Women's Forum Dr Vuyokazi Mahlati has won the 2019 "woman of substance" award presented by the African Women Chatered Accountant. PHOTO: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG  - Social entrepreneur, gender activist and global director of the International Women's Forum, Dr Vuyokazi Mahlati has won the 2019 "woman of substance" award presented by the African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA).

Mahlati was announced the winner at a banquet in Sandton, Johannesburg on Thursday night which coincided with the start of women's month in South Africa.

The event was held to honour high-achieving women in South Africa while simultaneously raising funds to facilitate access to the profession for aspiring young chartered accountants.

Mahlati is president of the African farmers association of South Africa and chairwoman of an advisory panel on land reform and agriculture, a position for which she was handpicked by President Cyril Ramaphosa. She is also serving her second term as a member of South Africa’s national planning commission.

The businesswoman runs Africa’s first indigenous wool processing plant in Butterworth in Eastern Cape province, some of whose workers are people in their forties who had previously never been employeed.

"For the very first time in this country, we have commercialised cashmere," she says of the operation. 

"It gives me such joy empowering people ... To see them undergo training and learning how to make cashmere garments that are renowned worldwide, makes me grateful to effect change within our country."

Her passion for agriculture stems from her formative years; in school she had to make a choice of subject between home economics -- traditionally regarded as ideal for female studetns -- or agriculture, and opted for the latter.

Former recipients of the "woman of substance" accolade include chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, Dr Judy Dlamini, minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and former public protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela.

- African News Agency (ANA)