‘The issue of gender-based violence is at the heart of human rights’

Posted on August 28, 2020

“Don’t be afraid to take on new opportunities, embrace and learn from failure, and most importantly, have fun along the way,” says Dr Faheema Mahomed-Asmail, wife, mother, researcher and lecturer in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.

Dr Faheema Mahomed-Asmail, a senior lecturer in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at UP, tells us about herself, what motivates her and why gender-based violence requires a multi-pronged approach.

TV: Tell us about yourself and your educational qualifications.

FMA: I am a wife and a busy mom of two wonderful children, aged three and one. I matriculated from a local school with six distinctions in 2006. I then undertook an undergraduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at UP, which I completed cum laude in 2010. After completing my community service, I decided to pursue a career in academia. While working full time at UP, I went on to complete my master’s degree (cum laude) in 2013; thereafter, I completed my PhD in Audiology in 2016.

TV: What is your role at UP?

FMA: I am a senior lecturer in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. I teach undergraduates and provide clinical training in the field of Audiology, as well as supervise master’s and PhD students. I am also involved in interprofessional education and curriculum development, and I represent our department at two faculty committees.   

Part of my job entails being involved in research, which includes publishing my work, reviewing for journals, and presenting at conferences on a local and international level. My research relates to innovative tele- and m-health solutions to improve access to ear and hearing healthcare, as well as investigating the biopsychosocial approach in person/relationship-centred care.

TV: What are your aspirations at UP and for your life in general?

FMA: The main driver behind my career choice has always been to assist people who have communication difficulties, as communication plays a vital role in our daily lives. As I work towards becoming an established researcher within my field, I hope to provide vulnerable populations with increased access to hearing healthcare in order to improve their communication abilities and hopefully their quality of life. 

TV: What are some of the challenges of your job, and what keeps you motivated?

FMA: One of the main challenges I face is balancing multiple priorities; this includes teaching, practical supervision, administration duties and research. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has added a new level of complexity, as I now have to balance working remotely while attending to my children. This has pushed me to find new approaches to meet the various demands. What has continued to keep me motivated is the passion and love I have for what I do, knowing that I can positively impact the lives of my students and clients. 

TV: What do you consider to be a highlight in your career?

FMA: There have been a few memorable highlights, but receiving a Y1 rating from the National Research Foundation tops the list. The rating indicates that I have been recognised by a panel of local and international reviewers as a young researcher who has the potential to establish myself as a future leader in my field.

TV: Do you find it difficult to manage a career and family life?

FMA: As a female with two young children, balancing my family life and academic career can become quite complex at times. In order to meet the demands of motherhood and work, I have developed my skills around being more adaptable and agile to ever-changing priorities. I am also very mindful of the importance of a family support structure, which has helped me to cope.

TV: What do you think are some of the barriers to women assuming leadership roles in the workplace?          

FMA: Over the past decade, there has been a greater shift and acceptance of women assuming leadership positions. However, there still seems to be an imbalanced approach to family care and work for women. The term “maternal wall bias” refers to the discrimination and limitations faced by working mothers, which has implications for promotion and positions of leadership.

TV: How do you think gender-based violence should be addressed?

FMA: This is a complex matter that requires a multi-pronged approach. In addressing the issue of gender-based violence, it is imperative that we continue to promote gender equality and women’s rights. Now more than ever, social media platforms can serve as a powerful tool to bring awareness and a positive change in the fight against gender-based violence by empowering women. The issue of gender-based violence is at the heart of human rights – it is thus the responsibility of every citizen to provide girls and women with secure environments to feel safe, respected and not stigmatised.

TV: What advice would you give to women today?

FMA: Don’t be afraid to take on new opportunities, embrace and learn from failure, and most importantly, have fun along the way.


- Author Xolani Mathibela

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