University of the Witwatersrand partners with UN Women with bold commitments to gender equality Five universities globally announce their commitments as HeForShe IMPACT Champions

Pretoria, 6 May 2015 — UN Women’s HeForShe campaign announced yesterday that the University of Witwatersrand was one of only five global IMPACT University Champions to date, demonstrating strong leadership to advance women’s rights and empowerment.

The HeForShe IMPACT 10X10X10 is an initiative that aims to engage an initial 10 governments, corporations and universities around the world in activities to achieve gender equality. The initiative prioritizes legislative bodies and corporations in view of the gender inequality that exists in these areas and universities join the impact trio because youth engagement represents one of the greatest opportunities for accelerating progress toward the achievement of gender equality, and for ending violence against women.

“If we are to achieve gender equality in our lifetime, we need creative approaches that target the biggest barriers. IMPACT 10x10x10 brings together the strength of partners across sectors to crack some of those barriers from within,” stated Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director and United Nations Under-Secretary-General. “Our IMPACT Champions have taken ownership of these issues. Their leadership and ideas will pave the way for others to join in.”

Since January when UN Women unveiled the pilot IMPACT 10X10X10 initiative at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, leaders from around the world have made personal and institutional commitments to the advancement and achievement of gender equality. UN Women’s HeForShe initiative has now announced five university Champions, representing over 150,000 students on four continents, including Vice-Chancellor and Principal Adam Habib of the University of the Witwatersrand.

The Champion universities have made concrete commitments including: advancing women in academia, addressing campus violence, building gender-sensitive campuses, and tackling pervasive biases towards women and men. Details of specific commitments from University of the Witwatersrand can be found at

The companies and universities engaged in 10x10x10 were selected based on their reputation for strong ethical practices, their demonstrated excellence in public service, their global reach and relevance, and their willingness to use their influence to drive and inspire change.

“South Africa’s legacy of gender discrimination and violence is a reality that we fight daily. It is a fight for every person who abhors the abuse of power and the trauma of violence. It is a fight to ensure that the role of men in ending gender-based harm is as active participants and not passive observers; it is to ensure that patriarchy and inequality are uprooted; and to ensure that those who benefit from inequitable hierarchies are an equal part of their deconstruction. It is a fight that universities generally, and Wits University specifically, must be part of,” said Adam Habib, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of the Witwatersrand.

Since the September 2015 launch of HeForShe by actor Emma Watson in her capacity as UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, men and boys around the world have committed to take action for gender equality. Nearly 300,000 men and boys have made their commitment to gender equality through the “HeForShe Commitments API” (a geo-located website app allowing men to register and visualize the real-time number of men activated on the map globally). In addition, HeForShe has reached over 2 billion people on social media.

UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. For more information, visit

HeForShe is a solidarity movement that calls upon men and boys to stand up against the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally. The campaign strengthens the support for women’s rights as human rights by enlisting the support of men and exhorting them to put themselves forward as advocates for gender equality. For more information, visit For more information about the specific commitments made, visit