Bam recognised for her contribution to society

The Advisory Council of the Public Sector Awards selected Dr Brigalia Bam as a recipient of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award in honour of her role as a leader and in recognition of her contributions to South African society.

To a great extent, she is recognised for her role as the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Her sterling career, spanning well over 30 years, has seen her establish her credentials as a strong leader both locally and abroad. Her wisdom, leadership skills, strong advocacy for women issues, promotion of democracy and her willingness to serve her country with great passion are just some of the characteristics which led to this recognition.

Bam is recognised and widely appreciated as an asset to South Africa. Under her leadership, the IEC has become the standard bearer for how elections should be run. The IEC now enjoys the reputation among South Africans and international governments of being a credible and visionary organisation. She leaves a legacy that can only improved by those who follow in her footsteps.

Born in the Eastern Cape, Bam has held various and interesting positions throughout the world, including:

  • Serving as a qualified social worker and school teacher in her earlier career;
  • Programme director of the World Council of Churches in Switzerland;
  • Serving as the Africa regional secretary and coordinator of the Women’s Workers Programme;
  • Co-ordinator of the World Young Men Christian Association (YMCA);
  • Co-ordinator of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA);
  • Chairperson of the Open Society Foundation;
  • Programme co-ordinator for development and human rights at the YWCA.

Her achievements have been noted by many institutions and organisations over the years. Chief among her accolades was being awarded the highly acclaimed Order of the Baobab in Silver in 2004. This was granted to her for her distinguished contributions to the upliftment of women and democracy-building in South Africa. The order is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service delivered above and beyond the ordinary call of duty.


Other awards include:

  • Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award;
  • Chancellors Medal — University of Pretoria;
  • Order of the Church of Cyrene, Church of the Province of South Africa;
  • Women Achievers’ Prestige Award — Rapport Publishers;
  • Women of Faith — Women Witness Award — Ecumenical Church Worldwide;
  • Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Fort Hare, Unitra, Durban Westville, and Victoria in Toronto.

A humble and dedicated leader, Bam continues to serve the public. She is currently the chairperson of the South African Development Coordination Conference Electoral Commission. She is also the secretary-general of the South African Council of Churches, secretary and coordinator of the Women Workers Programme (Africa region) for the International Food and Allied Workers Association and director of the programme of the World Council of Churches.

This article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper as an advertorial supplement

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