Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black President, Nobel Peace Prize winner, activist, humanitarian and champion for human rights, died yesterday at the age of 95.
Not only did Mr. Mandela fight against Apartheid, he was also a dedicated supporter of women’s rights. Under his presidency in the 1990s, South Africa signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) treaty, something the U.S. still has not done.
Additionally, he regularly spoke out against rape and sexual abuse of women and was a proponent of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which contained provisions for gender equality and the eradication of violence against women and children.
Here are just a few of his fighting words for women’s rights:
“Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.”
“The legacy of oppression weighs heavily on women. As long as women are bound by poverty and as long as they are looked down upon, human rights will lack substance.”
“As long as the nation refuses to acknowledge the equal role of more than half of itself, it is doomed to failure.”
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela will forever be remembered by the world for his leadership and steadfast commitment to equal rights for all. Rest in peace Mr. Mandela.