Sonke’s Mbuyiselo Botha in gender dialogue with Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, and Graça Machel

“August 9, 1995 is the 39th anniversary of the 1956 women’s march to the Union Buildings in opposition to the pass laws … We have declared this day a national holiday. This is in celebration of the struggles of the women over the decades and a rejuvenation of our commitment to strive for a society free of all kinds of discrimination, more especially discrimination against women.”
– Nelson Mandela, August 9, 1995

This Women’s Day weekend, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is bringing together some of the world’s most prominent women leaders as part of the 12th Annual Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture Series. On Saturday, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile delivers the annual lecture, with the theme “Building Social Cohesion Through Active Citizenship.”

As an organisation that promotes gender equality, Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke) welcomes this lecture, and looks forward to hearing insights from the highly esteemed panellists on Sunday’s interactive dialogue: “Does Gender Still Matter in the Ongoing Work of Liberation?”

Coordinated by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the University of Cape Town (UCT)’s African Gender Institute (AGI), the Gender-in-Dialogue on Sunday includes Chilean President and former UN Women Director, Michele Bachelet; UCT Chancellor, Graça Machel; Sonke’s Government and Media Liaison, and gender activist Mbuyiselo Botha; researcher and the host of the recent Queer in Africa events, Zethu Matebeni; and feminist activist and writer, and former Chair of the South African Commission for Gender Equality, Nomboniso Gasa.

“It is important for men to shoulder the responsibility of creating a safe and equal society for women,” says Sonke’s Mbuyiselo Botha who has worked to engage men and boys in the struggle for gender equality for decades, “Men have to join women as allies and be part of the work towards an equitable society.”

The speakers will discuss whether gender still matters on the political and economic work of on-going liberation. The Nelson Mandela Foundation says that “the choice to include a strong focus on the politics of gender and sexuality within this exploration of citizenship speaks to the decades-long recognition of the work of women such as Dora Tamana, Lilian Ngoyi, Phila Ndwandwe and Bev Ditsie, and to the current dynamism of a new generation of African-based feminist writers and gender activists.”

Sonke’s Executive Director Dean Peacock pays tribute to Nelson Mandela and the inspiring life he led, “Nelson Mandela embodied the values Sonke works to promote: a commitment to dialogue, democracy, equality and accountability, and a determination to live life passionately and courageously.”

Mr. Mandela committed his life to the fight against an oppressive regime in South Africa, and after more than a quarter of a century of being imprisoned for his efforts to free oppressed people in South Africa, he then, as President of a new democracy, dedicated himself to building a democratic and free South Africa, with dialogue, reconciliation and freedom as cornerstones.


Mbuyiselo Botha
Sonke Gender Justice, Government and Media Relations Manager

Czerina Patel
Sonke Gender Justice, Communications & Strategic Information


August 10th dialogue, 10am:

The dialogue will be streamed live from the UCT website:

And also live broadcast on SABCTV Channel 404 on DSTV

UCT’s African Gender Institute (AGI) is the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s partner in the design of the event. AGI’s Associate Professor Jane Bennett and Yaliwa Clark will convene and facilitate the interaction between the speakers and audience. At least 600 people are expected to attend, including parliamentarians, NGO activists, and UCT students and staff.

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August 9th Lecture, 3pm:

The lecture on 9 August will be live streamed through the Nelson Mandela Foundation Facebook page: