Rights of South African Women

By Dana & Sydney

The History of Womens' Rights in South Africa

South African women were not viewed as equals in the eyes of the law, or the people. They were under the control, both social and legal, of their husbands and fathers and were not allowed to own property. The law did not allow for black women to legally have guardianship over their children. Legally speaking, the men could do whatever they pleased to the women, this includes beating and raping them. They were tortured and some where burned alive, while white men,women, and children watched.

Causes That Helped Women to Get Rights: Activists

One woman who stood out in women's rights and in the political world of South Africa was Winnie Mandela. Her name may sound familiar because she was married to Nelson Mandela. What caused her to go into politics was when her husband was put into jail in 1962. She was majorly involved in politics and woman's right in the 1980's during the anti-apartheid revolt and government repression. "She cultivated a mass following in the squatter communities of South Africa"(Karin S.). Her followers helped to get women to have rights.

The Effects That The Activists Had

Although the women in South Africa are still economically challenged, and are mostly unemployed, they gained the rights that they deserved. According to South African History, women gained the rights to life, dignity, privacy, and many others when a new constitution was put in place. They also gained the equality that they deserved and it is written in their constitution that, "The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, color, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth"(History).

Solutions To The Problem

The main solution that was made, although it was more like a decision, was that there was to be an article in the new constitution specifically giving rights to women. The new constitution was introduced in 1996 and section 9 of this new constitution was titled "Equality" and it stated the specific rights that all women of South Africa had.


Women in South Africa had little, to no, rights before the new constitution was written. Many women activists help in the process of getting rights by protesting and getting the word out.

Works Cited

Coddon, Karin. Black Women Activists. Farming Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2004. Print.

"History of Women's Struggle in South Africa." South African History Online. Web. 10 Mar 2014. <www.sahistory.org.za/topic/womens-rights-and-representation>.

Winnie Mandela Movie

Pictures Of The Fight For No Rights