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#WCW : Bekezela Dube

Who is Bekezela Dube ?

Mother of two, Bekezela Dube holds a Master of Philosophy in Natural Resources Management from NUST. She is a young, aspiring sustainability scientist. She is currently doing her PhD in Sustainable Development at the Centre for Sustainability Transitions at Stellenbosch University. With a focus on protected area systems in the KAZA TFCA, her study examines the social-ecological resilience of complex adaptive social-ecological systems. Hwange National Park and the surrounding communities are where she is conducting her fieldwork. In addition, she is a part of the Southern Africa Resilience Academy and the Resilience Alliance Young Scholars Network.

Who inspires you to take conservation as a career , and what motivates you to do your job ?

I am inspired by Prof. Peter Mundy, without whom I don't think I would be where I am now. He encouraged me to embrace and follow my love for working with local communities after noticing it. I am also driven by a desire to uplift other women who may feel that it is difficult to pursue their aspirations after having children.

How do you balance work and social life ?

Conducting research enables me to be adaptable and manage my time more effectively, allowing me to consistently make time for my family. Despite the fact that I am a student in South Africa, I can easily visit my family since they live in Hwange which happens to be my study area .

Conducting resilience assessment workshop with Parks managers and researchers at Main Camp, Hwange National Park

What are the most exciting and most challenging experiences of your work ?

I enjoy conversing with people, therefore my research work allows me the chance to do so while learning about the dynamics of the complex world we currently live in. The fact that I get to discuss "resilience," a concept that ties in well with my given name and my life experiences, is another exciting aspect of my research. Convincing local people of the worth of research, especially when the benefits are not immediate, is the most difficult aspect of my work.

What are the challenges being faced by women in conservation and what can be done to address them ?

The majority of women find it challenging to manage work, family, and research. Women occasionally miss  opportunities because  of the need to prioritize their families needs. Therefore, having workplaces where young mothers may spend time with their children and providing equal and inclusive opportunities for women can help with this.

Advice to aspiring conservationists

If it's something you are passionate about, don't be hesitant to try out opportunities even if you believe you don't qualify.

Do you think a mentorship program can be a good tool to motivate more young woman to take up conservation as a career ?

Yes, definitely. Most women are unaware of how diverse conservation is and how many options exist outside of working in the field. Mentorship can therefore assist close this knowledge gap.

Would you take up some time to mentor a young person given an opportunity ?

Yes, I would. I think many others would be motivated to achieve their aspirations by learning from my academic journey and my experiences as a young mother.

What is your favorite animal

"A zebra, the stripes reveal the beauty of creation"

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