The Role Of Women In Apartheid In South Africa

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What Was Apartheid?
Apartheid was a system of racial segregation that was enforced by the legislation of the National Party (NP) in South Africa between 1948 and 1994. The laws during Apartheid greatly benefited the White and Afrikaner minority. The movements of the majority black inhabitants and other ethnic groups were oppressed by the government. The Apartheid legislation classified inhabitants into four racial groups – “White”, “Black”, “Coloured” and “Indian – and residential areas were also segregated. From 1960 to 1983 over 3.5 million non-white South Africans were removed from their homes and forced into segregated neighbourhoods. Non-white political representation was abolished in 1970, and starting in that year black people were deprived
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Women in South Africa have always emerged as the primary facilitators for protests against, and as challengers of, the apartheid regime. Due to the devastating effects and disabilities of Apartheid, the status of women was very negatively affected. In order for real change to occur, women understood that change for them could not come through reform but only through the total destruction of the apartheid system. Because of this, women and men were united in the fight against apartheid.
There is no doubt that the men of apartheid are seen as the overt leaders against the regime, however the seeming unacknowledged and informal society controlled by women has been the key to many of the most significant mass movements in modern South African history. It was only recently that the crucial role played by women in raising the basic issues, organising and involving the masses has become more widely recognised.
The most noteworthy acts against apartheid by women are the following:
• Women in the trade
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Women played an active role in the Campaign of Defiance Against Unjust Laws during which, in 1952, many were arrested. They also helped organise the Congress of Democrats and the Coloured Peoples Congress.

The Federation of South African Women The Federation of South African Women was primarily composed of affiliated women’s groups, African, Indian, Coloured and White politcal organisations, and trade unions. The objectives of the Federation were to bring the women of South Africa together to secure full equality of opportunity for all women, regardless of race, colour or creed. This was to remove social, legal and economic disabilities and to work for the protection og the women and children.
The "Women`s Charter" - which was ultimately incorporated into the “Freedom Charter” - was written at the first conference and called for the enfranchisement of men and women of all races; equality of opportunity in employment; equal pay for equal work; equal rights in relation to property, marriage and children; and the removal of all laws and customs that denied women such equality. The Charter further demanded paid maternity leave, childcare for working mothers, and free and compulsory education for all South African

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