Women’s Month Feature: The Doctor Is Smashing Life!

By Vanessa Papas


Beautiful. Nurturing. Compassionate. Ambition. Powerful. Women across the world are rising stronger than ever before. We have today a far cry from simply being ‘a man’s world’. In celebration of National Women’s Day on 9 August, we take a look at some amazing women who, despite their disabilities, have risen beyond imagination and become a force to be reckoned with.


Dr Praveena Sukhraj-Ely


CBM South Africa’s newest board member, Dr Praveena Sukhraj-Ely is fast making her mark within the justice system, proving that despite her visual impairment, she continues to rise to new heights. Praveena was born with 10 percent vision in one eye only. As a young girl, she lost her sight completely and excelled at the Arthur Blaxall School for the blind in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal.  Her determination and tenacity have seen her hold a Bachelor of Social Science degree, with majors in Legal Studies and Political Science. She also obtained an LLB Degree in 2000 and a Master’s Degree in Political Science in 2002. She passed the National Bar Examination in 2002 and secured certificates in legislative drafting in 2007. Praveena earned her Doctorate in Public Policy in 2009.

She currently heads the Directorate of Persons with Disabilities, which was established in 2014 and is located within the Chief Directorate: Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Earlier this year, Praveena was also appointed as one of five Principal Officers of the executive committee of the International Council for the Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI).

Dr Sukhraj-Ely believes passionately that a lot of awareness and education still needs to be done so that people can have a mind-set on what a person with disabilities is like, what is being disabled and how does it impact a person with disabilities. She pointed it out that people living with disabilities are aware of their rights but often times, they do not know how to enforce them. She further explained that it is very complicated and sometimes they do not even know where to start when they go to court and it is very costly. She thinks that all of those complications make it impossible for people to enforce those rights. The problem persons with disabilities begin in the morning, getting up and trying to get someone to help to take public transport.