Pregs Govender is a feminist activist and writer whose
research and writing investigates the intersections between,
and the possibilities for redefining, sexuality, spirituality,
politics, leadership and power.
Since June 2002 she has been an Associate at the Africa
Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town. She writes
an editorial page column for SA's largest weekly, the Sunday
Times, and occasional features for the Mail & Guardian.
Her current activities also include serving on the Nelson
Mandela Foundation's Aids Advisory Board. She represented
the Board on the Expert Review Panel of the Foundation's
research with the Human Sciences Research Council on HIV/AIDS
(2003 and 2004).
Pregs served as an African National Congress Member of
Parliament from 1994 to May 2002 in the National Assembly
and was Chair of the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Quality
of Life and Status of Women. In the 2004 study 'Gender in
Southern African Politics: Ringing up the Changes' (CL Morna(ed))
she is credited with "driving one of the most remarkable
gender justice reform agendas to have taken place in such
a short period of time". This included pioneering and
politically steering SA's Women's Budget, establishing priorities
for legislative change and ensuring that over 80% of these
were enacted into law.
Her political activism began as a high school student in
1974, as elected secretary of its student body. She continued
through university, community, women's and political organisations
fighting apartheid. Her professional life began as an educator
at high schools, at the University of Durban-Westville (UDW)
and then as National Educator in SA's clothing and textile
workers' union. She established and headed SA's first Worker's
College. In 1992 she was employed by the Women's National
Coalition (WNC) to conceptualise, direct and manage its
campaign. The Women's Charter it produced, through participatory
research, is estimated to have involved two million women.
She has received several local and international awards
for her writing and activism. These include the 1999 AWID
Inspiration Award "recognising an extraordinary individual
whose initiative, leadership and unrelenting commitment
have made a significant impact in advancing gender equality
and social justice around the world". In 2003, she
received an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from UDW, for
"her contribution to the community and political transformation".
She is presently the first Ruth First Fellow (Ruth First
was a prominent ANC activist and journalist assassinated
by the apartheid state) in recognition of her writing and
Editor: South Africa's Country Report on the Status of
Women for the United Nations Fourth World Conference on
Women, held in Beijing, September 1995. (Co-editors: D.Budlender
and N.Madlala-Routledge). Publisher: Government Printers,
Editor: "How best can SA address the horrific impact
of Hiv/Aids on women and girls?" Tabled and published
by the SA Parliament, February 2002.
HSRC Institutional Review 2003: Wrote the sections on:
'Gender as a Cross-cutting theme' and integrated this perspective
in 'Equity: Race and Gender'; 'Gender Updated'; and the
rest of the report. HSRC Publishers, 2003.