Thato Valencia Mmatli


Thato Valencia Mmatli was raised in a humble, yet vibrant home in Soweto. She is dedicated to her large, non-nuclear family and takes personal responsibility for the education of those who succeed her. She is an avid reader and advocate for the liberating capacity of literature.

She takes great pride in her background and seeks to reconcile her respect for her cultural upbringing with her feminist views. She is deeply introspective and delights in critical dialogue on issues affecting South Africa and the world. Professionally, Thato is a registered Industrial Psychologist and has work experiences within the corporate, consulting, and government services. She holds two master’s degrees, her alma maters include the University of Johannesburg (undergraduate studies), Wits University (Postgraduate Psychology studies), and Linnéuniversitetet in Sweden (International Leadership and Management studies). She is the former chairperson of the Kalmar Network for Future Global Leaders, an initiative to promote youth agency. She is also currently the Deputy President for the Sweden Alumni Network in SA, which aims to continue the bi-national relationships between scholarship holders and their institutions. Among her many passions and ambitions she seeks to contribute to the areas of female leadership identification and development, overcoming the ‘glass ceiling’ and ‘glass cliff’. Being a Zanele Mbeki Fellow continues to equip her with feminist ideology and strategy. Principally, creating better awareness of and access to education and business opportunities for underprivileged youth is her lifetime goal.

I am able to move through the world fearlessly! And I am armed with the deepest self-love because of feminism. This Fellowship has been the most transformative experience. The journey continues!