Deputy Chairperson (Full time)
Date of appointment: 01 January 2009
|An activist against Apartheid since 1974, Pregs Govender taught English in Durban, at schools and at university, before joining the trade union movement in the 80’s. She was National Educator of GAWU (now SACTWU) before heading SA’s first Workers College. Pregs served on the executive structures of COSATU’s National Gender Committee and the UDF-affiliated Natal Organisation of Women.
During the negotiated transition, Pregs managed the Women’s National Coalition, which mobilised rural and urban women to impact on SA’s Constitution. She then worked in the national RDP office, integrating women’s concerns into the RDP. As an ANC member, she was elected to the National Assembly in SA’s first democratic election. In the ‘94 budget debates she initiated SA’s gender budgeting and steered its impact on the ‘98/‘99 National Budget. In ’94 she was tasked with editing SA’s Country Report to Beijing.
Pregs was elected Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Women (‘96-‘02). This Committee ensured that 80% of its legislative priorities were enacted by 1999. During the Mbeki era, this Committee held public hearings on the gendered impact of HIV/Aids. After being the only MP to register opposition to the arms deal in the Defence Budget Vote, Pregs resigned in 2002.
Her work thereafter included being the Chairperson of the Independent Panel Review of Parliament. Her human rights activism includes being a member of the global Panel on Human Dignity. Pregs’ awards include honorary doctorates in Law and Philosophy, the first Ruth First Fellowship and the Fulbright New Century Scholarship for the Global Empowerment of Women. She has authored many papers and articles and contributed to several publications. Pregs is the author of Love and Courage, a story of Insubordination.
In November 2008, Parliament voted unanimously for her appointment as SAHRC Commissioner by President Motlanthe. She began her term in January 2009 and was appointed Deputy Chairperson in October. She leads the SAHRC programmes on Basic Services, CEDAW and PAIA.
Basic services, access to information
Women’s Rights as Human Rights
National Women’s Day, 09 August 2012 By Pregs Govender, SAHRC Deputy Chair
Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, noted in the Nelson Mandela 10th annual lecture that South Africa is a “nation of paradoxes” for women. Women are well represented in cabinet, parliament and political parties, yet the majority of women’s daily lives remain unchanged. Women bear the brunt of gender based violence, poor service delivery, HIV and poverty. She reminded us of the United Nations report, “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”: “Any serious shift towards sustainable development requires gender equality. Half of humankind’s collective intelligence and capacity is a resource we must nurture and develop for the sake of multiple generations to come. The next increment of global growth could well come from the economic empowerment of women.”
Tenth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture: Mary Robinson speaks on citizenship and common purpose
09 August 2012
Freedom, truth, democracy: citizenship and common purpose
When I was invited to deliver the Tenth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, I felt daunted both by the honour of marking with you the 10th anniversary here in this historic Town Hall of Cape Town, and by the distinguished list of speakers who have gone before. Those of you who know me know that I am not easily daunted, and I feel daunted right now.