December 6, 2013
As the world remembers and grieves over the death of Nelson Mandela, it’s important to remember that his legacy includes not only his work to end apartheid but his efforts to end other forms of oppression and discrimination as well. Erin Gloria Ryan, writing for Jezebel, provides this overview: “What Nelson Mandela Meant for South Africa’s Women.” She includes this excerpt from his Women’s Day speech in 1996.
The legacy of oppression weighs heavily on women. As long as women are bound by poverty and as long as they are looked down upon, human rights will lack substance. As long as outmoded ways of thinking prevent women from making a meaningful contribution to society, progress will be slow. As long as the nation refuses to acknowledge the equal role of more than half of itself, it is doomed to failure.
And Julian Snow, writing for Metro Weekly, summarizes what LGBT leaders are saying about Mandela’s advancement of equality, justice, and freedom for LGBT people as part of his emphasis on the rights and dignity of all people. One of these leaders, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, expressed it this way:
Nelson Mandela tore down oppression, united a rainbow nation, and always walked arm-in-arm with his LGBT brothers and sisters—and with all people—toward freedom. Though every man, woman and child who seeks justice around the world mourns this loss, his vision of an equal future lives on undimmed.