Vino Pillay, Championing the Empowerment of Women, Youths, and Non-Profits through Active Citizenship

For most of human history, the narratives around women and youth have been ones of limitation. Yet, archaeological evidence and pre-colonial stories suggest that some ancient societies held both women and young people in positions of power and influence. However, with the rise of patriarchal structures and age-based hierarchies, these roles became increasingly marginalized. Generations of activists and changemakers have pushed back against these limitations.

These groups have persistently challenged the status quo, from establishing women’s rights movements by leaders like Winnie Mandela and Wangari Maathai to youth-driven protests, thereby, shaping history.

Despite this significant progress, gender-based violence, unequal access to education and healthcare, and persistent stereotypes continue to hinder the full potential of both women and our youth.

It is within this context that individuals like Vino Pillay shine. As a South African trailblazer, her work as an active citizen exemplifies the power of women and youth to rewrite these narratives. Her efforts in women’s empowerment, youth development, and social action pave the way for a more equitable and just society.

From Geography Scholar to Digital Champion (her unfolding)

Vino Pillay

Vino Pillay’s path to becoming a digital architect of change began with a strong foundation in human geography. Her educational background reveals a deep curiosity about place, culture, and economic development.

Her educational background reflects a fascinating blend of disciplines. With a Masters Degree in Geography specializing in Destination Marketing and Local Economic Development from the University of Durban-Westville (UKZN) and a Postgraduate Programme in Marketing Management from the University of South Africa, she brings a wealth of expertise to her work. Her focus on Social Sciences instilled in her a keen understanding of social dynamics and the potential for spatial strategies to drive progress. This specialized degree equipped her with research skills and a deeper understanding of how spatial factors influence economic development and social issues, further contributing to her co-authoring journal publications on tourism dynamics in post-apartheid cities and challenges of the post-apartheid era for cities like Durban.

Vino’s thirst for knowledge didn’t stop there. But Vino’s academic journey took an interesting turn. Recognizing the burgeoning power of the digital age, she pivoted her focus towards digital marketing. Additionally, she actively pursued certifications from Google Partners Academy SA, demonstrating her dedication to staying at the forefront of the modern digital marketing landscape. Simultaneously, she completed the Toastmasters program; where, as a Distinguished Toastmaster, she believes the true measure of how much is achieved through the program may best be measured by how well it is implemented for the growth and development of others. 

Active citizenship for social change/Women’s empowerment

Vino firmly believes in the role of active citizenship in driving social change. Her work as the South African National Ambassador and Executive Director of World Speech Day South Africa; and member of the WSD Global Advisory Board reflect this. World Speech Day is a non-profit organization that celebrates the power of speeches to inspire, inform, and unite people across the world. In addition to the annual event that takes place in over 100 nations on March 15th, World Speech Day South Africa observes United Nations International Observance Days with campaigns where young people provide advocacy for causes. Their “WSD Future Ready Skills Development Program” aims to nurture youth as active citizens, strive towards contributing to the betterment of humanity and hone their leadership skills.

Vino’s work as the Global Lead for World Speech Day Women and President of the South African Chapter of the International Women’s Federation of Commerce and Industry is focused on women’s empowerment and leadership. WSD Women is the women’s empowerment pillar of WSD Global and was approved as a United Nations Women Generation Equality Commitment Maker in 2021. The goal is to promote advocacy under the theme of “Feminist Movements and Leadership to advance women and girls”. In her role as President of the International Women’s Federation of Commerce and Industry South Africa, active efforts are being made to support women entrepreneurs to become global players by maximising their domestic and export market potential.

As the gateway chapter to Africa, Vino’s role extends to growing IWFCI’s presence in Africa after the chapter hosts the 8th Annual Global Women’s Trade Summit for the first time in Africa this year.

A champion for digital transformation

Vino’s formative years may have been spent at leading blue-chip companies and a foreign mission but as the owner of Digital Marketing Edge SA, Vino understands the power of the digital realm in unlocking opportunities for not-for-profits particularly in managing the Google AdWords Grant for them as an invaluable resource for organizations on a mission to bring about positive change. Her work has generated a greater online global footprint for non-profits, helping them reach a wider audience and promote their causes. Vino has delivered conventional and digital marketing solutions to non-profits and entrepreneurs, helping them secure a firm presence in the digital sphere.

Her commitment to active citizenship and social change is evident in her work and in March 2024, she was awarded for her exceptional leadership trait at the 5th transformational leadership summit hosted by the Africa4Africa Women’s Conference (AAWC) in partnership with the National Institute for Sustainable Development and the Ministry for Planning in Cairo, Egypt.

Vino Pillay at TLS 2024

Hosting her was a great opportunity, and we look forward to engaging more with her soon because, for Vino Pillay, the future still has a lot to benefit not-for-profits, entrepreneurs, youth and women.


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