Dr Frene Ginwala


Frene Ginwala is a journalist, politician and the former speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa from 1994-2004. She received her LLB from the University of London and her PhD at Oxford University. In 1960 she left South Africa to go visit her parents in Lourenco Marques, Mozambique, she would not return to South Africa for another 31 years. While in Mozambique and also while living in Tanzania she became a very strategic player for the ANC, she used her connections to help many prominent ANC members escape South Africa, one of these was OR Tambo. While in Tanzania she founded and acted as the editor of the monthly journal, Spearhead.  She left Tanzania to start her PhD and returned to become managing director of The Standard, which was a nationalized English newspaper. She returned to Oxford to complete her PhD and continued to raise awareness and publish articles and papers about Apartheid.

She played an active role in gathering support from the international community and in 1987 became an expert to advise the UNESCO Director General on the Peace and Research Program. She wrote articles about the importance of sanctions against the Apartheid government.

When she returned to South Africa in 1991, she took a deserved central role in shaping the transition to democracy. Having advocated for the rights of citizens of all races to have full political rights in South Africa for the majority of her life, she played an important role in assuring that sexism did not play a part in the state as well.

In 1994 she was elected to the National Assembly of South Africa as an ANC candidate and was elected the national speaker, a role which she held for ten years until she stepped down in 2004. In 2005 she became the Chancellor of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Although now semi-retired,  she still holds positions on the Board of Directors of the Inter Parliamentary Union, the Women’s League, and the ANC, and she continues to be involved in the United Nations and UNESCO.