Sunday, July 31 2016, 10:34:02
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Himanshu Roy

JWB Blogger

Happy B’day Madiba, One Of The First Feminists Of The 20th Century!

  • JWB Post
  •  July 18, 2016


Those were dark days when the color of skin clouded the vision of South Africa. The unjust laws of apartheid meant a systematical discrimination based on draconian principles of racism.

The civil rights movement in America was a success but even after many years had passed since Martin Luther King Jr. had preached the message of equality and peace in the US, in Africa freedom was a distant dream.

That’s when Madiba came in. Yes, I am talking of Nelson Mandela, the lone ranger who took Africa out from the dark days of apartheid.  It was a time when South Africans had to live in their very own country as outsiders in order to serve the purpose of their colonial oppressors.

It was Mandela, who taught them to dream, to instill the belief in their hearts that black=white. We all know Mandela as the African Gandhi and how he waged a peaceful war against racism but do you know that he was one of the most complete feminists of the modern era?

Yes, Mandela understood the importance of gender equality a long time back and incorporated its principles in every policy that he made as the president of South Africa.

At the opening of the first parliament after Apartheid, Mandela said in his speech that freedom cannot be complete as long as women are not emancipated from all kinds of oppression. As a result, we saw that during his tenure, the representation of women in the South African parliament jumped from a mere 2.7 per cent to 27 per cent and today, thanks to him the figure is a whopping 44 per cent.

Mandela always acknowledged the fact that women played an active part in the anti apartheid struggle. 40 years after 20,000 women marched to the union buildings in Pretoria in protest of the fact that black women had to carry passes in urban areas, Mandela honored them by declaring August 9 as Women’s Day, a national holiday.

A substantial chunk of his time as the president of South Africa went into championing the causes of women and be it the signing of a bill against sexual violence at a UN convention or introducing a robust system of public healthcare for women, Mandela was always at the forefront.

On what would have been his 98th birthday, we thank Madiba for making the world a better place with by being one of the earliest feminists of the 20th century.

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