Nelson Mandela and Women’s Rights


South Africa’s monumental leader in the struggle against apartheid, Nelson Mandela, died today at age 95. Not only did he fight against the oppression of black Africans, but he supported the rights of women. Under his one-term presidency in the 1990s, South Africa signed and ratified the CEDAW treaty—something the U.S. has yet to do.

And he leaves us with these stirring words:

Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.



  1. We will not see all this remarkable man has accomplished, but hopefully our children and grandchildren will. His legacy will be his great love for all.

    “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
    (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

  2. BS Friedson says:

    That the United States has not ratified the CEDAW treaty is a blot upon our country. We lag far behind other nations that, when they recognize injustice, try to ameliorate it. We just give lip service.

  3. Who may we contact regarding the ratification of CEDAW? I feel like contacting people who voted against it, and I do not know at this point where my inquiries should be directed. Can any one recommend the offices I should contact? Thank you!

  4. Nelson Mandela changed my life. I was born in the Transkei, where Mandela did much of his early activism, in 1986. My father was a human rights activist who worked with Mandela’s allies to expose corruption in the racist apartheid government (as a result we had to move house several times due to death threats). The majority of my life was spent in post-apartheid South Africa and I grew up with Mandela as a central figure. I am now a writer living in Australia and have written a tribute to him for feminist e-zine Discordia, which I’d like to share with allof you here at Ms. Blog: Thank you.

  5. We are honored to be a part of spreading Nelson Mandela’s legacy and his vision of unity and hope for future generations. It is a very important message particularly in the world today and on a personal level I try my best to teach my children the positive messaging Mr. Mandela exemplified. #lohbracelet

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