Sonke’s announcement on the passing of Nelson Mandela

South Africa leads the world in mourning today after the death of its heroic leader Nelson Mandela yesterday at the age of 95. For decades, Mr. Mandela has been a symbol of the struggle for justice and equality, not only in South Africa, but globally.

Mr. Mandela, known affectionately in South Africa by his clan name “Madiba”, 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.

“Madiba was a champion for the rights of all – men, women, children,” says Sisonke Msimang, Sonke Gender Justice’s Senior Programme Specialist, “He was key in the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in 1997, which guarantees gender equality.”

Sonke Gender Justice’s Executive Director Dean Peacock pays tribute to Nelson Mandela and the inspiring life he led, dedicated to bringing about equality and justice for all. “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.” Peacock says that Mr. Mandela’s absence will be felt for a very long time in South Africa, but that all citizens have the opportunity to advance his legacy every day.

Sonke Gender Justice will continue to advance Mr. Mandela’s legacy, specifically in regards to promoting gender equality, ending the stigma around HIV, ensuring universal access to treatment, strengthening democracy and ending violence.

We remind people everywhere of Mr. Mandela’s words: “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.”