The South African Medical Research Council’s President & CEO, Professor Glenda Gray is among the Forbes Pan-African list of 50 most powerful women on the African continent. Being the first of its kind, the list was compiled and published by Forbes Africa Magazine in its March issue ahead of the 2020 Leading Women Summit that was held in Durban, KwaZulu Natal recently where Prof Gray was also one of the speakers.
In no particular ranking, the list is derived from across various sectors and industries including business, politics, media, science, sports, and public life. According to Forbes, this collection of the continent’s most influential women is challenging the status quo and creating a trail on terrain where there was none. They are reshaping history, closing inequalities and purposefully contributing to nation-building and positively impacting the lives around them.
Gray’s listing adds to the many accolades she has received for her unwavering thought leadership on public health research – in 2017, she was the only South African to be selected for Time magazine’s prestigious 100 most influential people in the world. Gray has been instrumental in researching the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and her work in a PETRA (PErinatal TRAnsmission) study, helped establish South Africa as a global research player in the field.
According to her, being recognized as a leader among other notable women in the continent, is truly an honour. She also added that the recognition of women’s leadership role in various sectors signals great progress in the fight for a more transformed and gender inclusive cultures both in business and the society at large.
“Although a lot still needs to be done, this is comforting considering that for the longest of time, women have been underestimated and undercounted as key role-players in key sectors” – said Gray.
She added that although women make up more than half of graduates in the medical and life sciences and 70% of the global health workforce, they still remain vastly under-represented at senior levels. “However, as the SAMRC we pride ourselves in changing the face of science in South Africa – we recently launched seven new Extramural Research Units (EMUs) – six of which are led by women, bringing to a total of 47% of our senior management team being women”, concluded Gray.
Professor Gray shares the prestigious list with giants such as Dr Graça Machel who is a renowned politician, activist, and humanitarian from Mozambique; former South African public protector, Dr Thuli Madonsela; Charlize Theron, a Hollywood-based South African actress and Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, a South African professor of mathematics education and vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, to mention a few.
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