Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement has appointed former deputy Health Minister and widely respected women’s rights activist Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge as its new Executive Director. She will assume her duties at the non-profit organisation that works to strengthen South African civil society and grow local philanthropy on Monday 15 June 2015.
Madlala-Routledge, who also served as Chairperson of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Deputy Minister of Defence, has a long and distinguished history of campaigning for human rights and working for civil society organisations that deepen and advance democratic participation. She served in the national liberation movement as Chairperson of the Natal Organisation of Women and on the Regional Executive Committee of the United Democratic Front (UDF). She later served on the executive of the Women’s National Coalition as well as the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) as managing secretary for the Sub-Council on the Status of Women. Madlala-Routledge was one of the four-strong South African Communist Party (SACP) delegation to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) that negotiated the transition from apartheid. She also served with Cyril Ramaphosa in the Constituent Assembly that drew up our Constitution.
Over the last few years, Madlala-Routledge helped establish the African Women’s Peace Table, a partnership forum for integrating women’s perspectives on issues of peace and security in Africa. She also set up the women’s human rights organisation ‘Embrace Dignity’ as well as ‘Democracy from Below’, a grassroots movement to strengthen participation in our democracy. Madlala-Routledge currently serves as Non-Executive Director of the ‘Coalition Against Trafficking in Women’ (CATW International) as well as ‘Right to Care’ and ‘Right to Care Health Services’, a section 21 company providing treatment and care for people living with HIV/Aids.
Madlala-Routledge says she believes her next challenge is to be part of the efforts to rebuild civil society in South Africa. “As we enter the third decade of our democratic transition, civil society faces new challenges of insecure funding from international donors, decreased support from government and a continuous drain in the leadership pool. Inyathelo is a key organisation supporting the deepening and advancement of democracy in South Africa and provides a much-needed resource to thousands of civil society organisations as well as our universities and other anchor institutions. Its work to promote the development of a philanthropic movement in South Africa is pioneering and I look forward to strengthening their efforts to help ensure the long term sustainability and independence of our vibrant civil society sector,” says Madlala-Routledge.
Founder and outgoing Executive Director of Inyathelo, Shelagh Gastrow, says it is a great privilege to hand over the reins to such a highly respected, dedicated and effective civil society leader. “Nozizwe has already made an invaluable contribution to our democracy as a liberation hero and human rights champion. But like many of us, she recognises that much work remains. Her willingness to roll up her sleeves yet again is a testament to her dedication, integrity and strength, as well as her deep and enduring commitment to our young democracy,” says Gastrow.
Madlala-Routledge has an honours degree in Philosophy from the University of Cape Town, a Human Rights Award from the University of KwaZulu Natal, an honorary doctorate from Haverford College, Pennsylvania, USA, and was a recipient of the Tanenbaum Peacemakers in Action Award.