Women in Rail and Safety conference to be annual event

Deputy Transport Minister Lydia Sindisiwe Chikunga.
Deputy Transport Minister Lydia Sindisiwe Chikunga.

Deputy Transport Minister Lydia Sindisiwe Chikunga.

The first Women in Rail and Safety conference on 19-20 October in Boksburg, endorsed by the Railroad Association, launched a gender-based career mentorship programme.

The programme develops current aspects of railway occupational health and safety; rail and safety skills for women; legislation for women at work; as well as gender issues in state, business and organised labour.

This conference was the first of its kind in the SADC region, as a conference for woman in rail and safety, hosted by women in rail and safety. The organisers, Jacintha Naidoo and Dr Natalie Skeepers, plan to make the conference an annual event.

Programme Day 1

Legislative framework for rail; Ms Tshepo Kgare, Railway Safety Regulator COO

Keynote; Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Lydia Sindisiwe Chikunga

Demands on women in rail operation goals; Ms Tembela Kulu, Prasa Rail provincial manager

Proposed Ergonomic Regulations; Ms Milly Ruiters, DOL Occupational Health and Hygiene director

How to close the infamous skills gap in SA rail; Ms Maphefo Anno-Frempong, TETA CEO

Women in spatial planning, tourism, and trams management; Ms Nomonde Tyabashe-Kesiamang, Sol Plaatjie Municipality executive director

My journey as a railway career woman; Ms Xoliswa Njokwni Mlotywa, Aveng Rail MD

Working women, and impacts on their health and safety; Dr Spo Kgalamono, Head of Occupational Medicine, at the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH)

Legalising cannabis and its effect on workplace policies and systems; Ms Jacintha Naidoo, Nanyata Siyaya MD

The board’s role in health and safety issues; Dr Natalie Skeepers, PhD Engineering Management, and non-executive director

Introduction to the mentoring and networking evening

Networking cocktail evening.

Programme, Day 2, 20 October

The role of the Commission for Gender and Equality; Ms Nandisile Thoko Mpumlwana

How to be an entrepreneur; Mr Jabu Stone, founder of Jabu Stone

Challenges women face in transport and logistics; Ms Shirley Duma, HR executive director at Barlow Logistics

I was sexually harassed at work for years; Prof Thidziambi Tshivhase-Phendla, former dean at Venda University

A systems approach to safety and sustainability in rail projects; Dr Urishanie Govender, director and GM of Enviro and Sustainability Services at GIBB

Rail safety management systems applications; by Ms Tumiso Voss, Transnet Freight Rail senior safety manager

I lost both my legs and survived; Ms Promise Jiyane, former Transnet Freight Rail yard official, now CAO

Women making it in a man’s world; Ms Babalwa Dludlu, MD or Azron Rail

Challenges facing women-owned companies and SMMEs; Ms Dorothy Mofomme, CEO of Valotech 228

Managing disability at work, and reasonable accommodation; Dr Millicent Tlakula, owner of OSHEQS Health and Safety Solutions

Wellness and aesthetic medicine; Dr Tahera Essay, GP, medical aesthetician at Greendot

Closing remarks and prizes draw.


Ms Jacintha Naidoo-McLeod is one of the organisers.

Ms Jacintha Naidoo-McLeod is one of the organisers.

Ms Jacintha Naidoo

Jacintha is managing director of the systems implementation, project management and OHS advisory company, Nanyata Siyaya. She has 27 years of working experience, with 17 in risk management, and 12 years in railway safety. She has in-depth experience in the manufacturing industry, parastatals, and government.

Jacintha has represented South Africa on railway safety matters in the SADC region and internationally, and has delivered presentations at local and international conferences. She is a former Senior Manager of Standards at the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) of SA, and former Regional Risk Manager of PRASA Johannesburg region.

Dr Natalie Skeepers.

Dr Natalie Skeepers.

Dr Natalie Skeepers

Natalie has executive level experience in health and safety management, in the transport and construction industries. She said the departure point for the conference is gender equity in rail and safety, which are both historically male-dominated. “One of the biggest challenges in attracting more women to the transport industry, will be to overcome the male paradigm in certain jobs, and in management. “The conference will provide a structure within which career women can meet, network, share,make friends, find consensus on current issues, and co-ordinate their efforts for gender equity.”

Mentors for women in rail and safety

Among the objectives of the programme are to set up a mentoring and coaching programme among railway and safety professionals.

“Women in rail and safety deserve support to further their careers, and to realise their full career potential, on an equal footing with men,” said Dr Skeepers.

“There are already great women who have the potential for a rewarding career in rail and in safety, who could make a substantial contribution to the industry. We need a programme to connect them to mentors,” said Jacintha.

“Some women do not yet know what they could achieve, since rail and safety are not on the standard menu of possible careers for women. Some women with relevant skills, are just daunted by the prospect of working in a male dominated environment.”

The conference will provide a collective platform for women in rail and safety to launch several professional and gender-based initiatives.

  • Oct 19 -20: Women in Rail and Safety, at Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg. Book with Dr Natalie Skeepers on 083 270 0139, Natalie.skeepers@gmail.com
  • Or Ms Jacintha Naidoo on 083 500 8541, jacintha@nsholdings.co.za


Some of the presenters’ profiles

Xoliswa Njokweni Mlotywa.

Xoliswa Njokweni Mlotywa.

Ms Xoliswa Njokweni-Mlotywa

Xoliswa will discuss her journey as a railway career woman. She is a civil engineer, graduated at the University of KwaZulu Natal. She has 16 years of working experience, including eight in rail, and eight in development finance institutions.

She is a former Perway Engineer at Metrorail (Cape and Wits Metrorail); business analyst at the IDC; Project Manager of Planning at Coega; civil engineering expert at the Development Bank; MD at RACEC Rail; MD at Thermitrex; MD at Aveng.

Her IDC duties included assessment of business plans for sustainability. At Coega Development Corporation she managed zone infrastructure development planning. The Development Bank had deployed her to various municipalities, including Phalaborwa, Jozini and Greater Kokstad, as a community development facilitator under the banner of Sustainable Communities Unit.

Work entailed assisting municipality with their integrated development plans (IDP’s), sectors plans, facilitation of development (and project) Charters, and advocating sustainable alternative technology in human settlement, schools and agriculture projects. She joined Thermitrex as co-MD, later MD, over South African operations in manufacturing, and growing the business into Sub-Sahara Africa. Her current role covers managing rail construction, track rehabilitation and mechanized track maintenance.

Dr Urishanie Govender.

Dr Urishanie Govender.

Dr Urishanie Govender

Urishanie will discuss A systems approach to safety and sustainability on rail projects. She is director and GM of Environmental and Sustainability Services at Gibb.

Dr Govender has extensive experience in providing leadership on sustainability assessments and corporate environmental compliance.  She wasdirectly involved in public participation; environmental impact assessments and environmental authorisations with four years’ experience at seniormanagement level in government and more than five years within industry.

She led several environmental projects in South Africa and Africa, including water and emission licensing and infrastructure upgrades. She developed an integrated systems framework for safety; health; environment, and quality management to enable beyond legal compliance during project feasibility and efficient implementation of management controls post-authorisations.

Her experience also includes advising boards and industry associations on developing structures for effective sustainability practices. She has a Doctorate in Business Leadership; Masters in Business Leadership, Masters in Science, and is a professionally registered scientist. Her registrations include SACNASP PrSciNat; Member of the Institute of Directors South Africa; Executive Member of the Coal Ash Association, 2010; Executive Member of the North West Air Pollution group, 2008.

Prof Thidiziambi Phendla.

Prof Thidiziambi Phendla.

Prof Thidiziambi Tshivhase-Phendla

She will discuss sexual harassment at work. She is a former dean at Venda University.





Tshepo Kgare.

Tshepo Kgare.

Ms Tshepo Kgare

Tshepo will discuss the legislative framework for railways. She is a seasoned civil engineer, with local and international transport industry experience. She is the former Head of the Department of Transport in the Eastern Cape, and is a highly experienced professional with over 15 years’ experience in the transport sector. Tshepo spent six years in the United Kingdom, working for various consultancy firms. She has been involved in transport engineering and planning, public transport, rail and airport operations in various countries across the continent, in the Southern and East African regions, UK, and the Middle East. She also spend a few years at the African Union and the World Bank, in the programme for the Sub-Sahara Africa Transport Policy Programme. She is currently the chief operations officer of the Railway Safety Regulator.

Ms Promise H Jiyane

PH Jiyani.

Promise will discuss her life journey after a rail accident. She is chief administrator at Transnet Freight Rail. As a young woman, her life journey took a drastic turn 14 months ago, after joining Transnet, due to a railway accident. She will reveal the before, the aftermath, and details of the event at the Women in Rail and Safety conference.

Tumiso Voss.

Tumiso Voss.

Ms Tumiso Voss (WagaMoraka)

Tumiso will discuss the dynamics of being a young intelligent woman in the railway industry. She is the Senior Manager of Safety at Transnet Freight Rail.

Tumiso completed matric at New West Secondary School in Durban, then a National Diploma in Environmental Management at Pretoria Technicon, She obtained a Nebosh International certificate; a Safety Management Diploma at Unisa; and is currently studying a Nebosh International Diploma course at Phoenix Health and Safety. She was appointed as a professional officer in Transnet Freight, Promoted to an Environmental Practitioner; then to a Safety Manager ten years ago 2006, and to a Senior Manager six years ago.

Ms Dorothy Mofomme.

Ms Dorothy Mofomme.

Ms Dorothy Mofomme

Dorothy will discuss challenges faced by women-owned and SMME entities. She is the founder and CEO of Valotech228.

Dorothy is an electrical engineer. Her company offers diverse services in railway signaling, railway track, quality management in projects, standardised by ISO 10006, general mechanical and electrical engineering, with specific emphasis on meaningful business transformations. She is also a part-time lecturer in Operations Management at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). Her experience includes Sector Quality Manager at Siemens, and Quality Management Specialist at Sentech. Dorothy had also served at Eskom, Metrorail, and Vodacom.

Shirley Duma.

Shirley Duma.

Ms Shirley Duma

Shirley will discuss Paving the Road for Women in Transport and Logistics. She is Human Resources Director at Barloworld Logistics, since 2014, starting as HR executive. In July 2016 she was appointed to the Barloworld Logistics Africa Board. Shirley has 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors across a wide range of functions, from strategic planning and programme management, to human resource management, organisational transformation, talent management and learning and development.

Born in South Africa, she moved with her family to the USA, where she completed her education and tertiary studies. After working extensively in the USA, she re-located to South Africa in 2005 and joined a major construction company where she held positions in human resources for nine years.

During this period she worked on the Gautrain project and gained valuable experience in the rail industry. Shirley is passionate about enabling people and organisations to perform at their best, as well as promoting an inclusive economy and making positive, sustainable contributions to society.

Mr Alex Granger, programme director

Alex is a global business speaker, and author of three books. Known as The Exceptional One, he is also the founder and CEO of The Possibility of YOU (Pty) Ltd, a specialist consulting, training, and development firm that focuses on people, purpose, and possibilities.

In pursuing and living out his possibility and purpose, Alex has had the honour of delivering keynote presentations to thousands of delegates internationally, inspiring ordinary people to accomplish their goals and dreams. He has also helped businesses to adopt a more meaningful purpose and a profitable vision.

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1 Comment on "Women in Rail and Safety conference to be annual event"

  1. I would like to know and learn more about women in rail entrepreneurship.

    ==== Former editor notes; Several women are suppliers or consultants to rail operators.
    A supplier from overseas told me that there are business opportunities in Africa, but less in South Africa, partly because the South African employers and authorities are all part of the state machinery, which had become too involved in government politics; which sometimes requires personal connections. Some SA state projects have been allocated to certain international suppliers, who strategise to keep competition out.
    Skills development, skills transfer, training, and career development is one of fields you may want to consider, particularly in a SADC or African context, since rail will become more integrated than it currently is.

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