Who Drafted the Charter?

The Women’s Charter was probably drafted by Ray Alexander and Hilda Watts, the co-organisers of the conference with contributions from the delegates to the conference. The official “Report on the first National Conference of Women” mentioned nearly 150 women in attendance whilst in a letter from Alexander to Watts stipulates 137 delegates. The charter was a two-and-a half page document which formed a manifesto of the ideas that came out of the inaugural conference. The charter identified the women’s movement completely within the national liberation movement. 

The known delegates to the conference are listed in this table below.

  1. Dora Tamana – ANC WL, Retreat Women’s Vigilance Association.
  2. Esther Nose – Retreat Women’s Vigilance Association.
  3. Emma Raxone – Nyanga Women’s Vigilance Association.
  4. Albertina Gwenkane – Nyanga Women’s Association.
  5. Rosie Mpetha – Nyanga Women’s Association.
  6. Annie Silinga – ANCWL, Langa Women’s Vigilance Association.
  7. Winfred Seqwana – ANCWL, Langa Women’s Vigilance Association.
  8. Gladys Smith – Cape Housewives’ Leagues.
  9. Katie White – Guardian Christmas Club.
  10. Hetty McLeod – Cape Factory Workers’ Committee.
  11. Hilda Lotz
  12. Freda von Rheda – Food and Canning Workers’ Union.
  13. Mabel Jones- African Food and Canning Workers Union, Worcester.
  14. Elizabeth Mafikeng – African Food and Canning Workers Union, Paarl.
  15. Betty Kearus/T. Steenkamp –African Food and Canning Workers Union, Paarl.
  16. Ray Alexander – COD.
  17. Cecilia Rosier – COD.
  18. Cecilia A.N. Kuse – ANCWL
  19. Fatima Meer- SAIC
  20. Bertha Mkhize – ANCWL
  21. Henrietta Ostrich – African Women’s Association
  22. Martha Nqxesha- African Food Canning Workers Union
  23. Hetty du Preez –Garment Workers’ Union, no.2
  24. Lillian Ngoyi- ANCWL
  25. Rica Hodgson – COD
  26. Rahima Moosa – SAIC
  27. Helen Joseph – COD
  28. Ida Mtwana – ANCWL
  29. Josie Palmer – Transvaal All-Women’s Union
  30. Hilda Watts – COD
  31. Amina Cachalia – SAIC
  32. Sister M.F. Thompson – ANCWL
  33. Florence Matomela – ANCWL

Extract from: Walker C, Women and Resistance in South Africa (1982), Onyx Press Ltd, London


Audio Visual

President Mandela gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Mandela ends his address with the words, “Let us all get down to work”.

“We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.”– President Mandela, extract from State of the Nation Address, 24 May 1994

President Nelson Mandela announces his cabinet. It includes members of the African National Congress, National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.

“There was pride in serving in the first democratic government in South Africa, and then the additional pride of serving under the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela … [He] represented the hopes of not just our country, but of oppressed, marginalised and the poor in the world.”– Jay Naidoo, then Minister of RDP housing
“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”– President Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994