Isabella Winkie Direko was born on the 27 November 1929 in Bochabela Township, in Bloemfontein. She attended school at the Anglican St. Alban’s Church School, and after completing her sub-standard B, she proceeded to another Anglican Church School known as St. Patrick’s Higher Primary School.
Martha Moipone Motlhakwana was one of Free State’s fearless women who challenged and took a stand against the apartheid government. Born on the 23rd December 1906 in Leqwala in Thaba Nchu, she was a daughter to the Makabane family. She worked as a domestic worker for 22 years and she used to sell fish to provide for her family.
Ella Cecil Fischer (née Fichardt) was the mother of the well-known struggle activist, Bram Fischer. Ella was an intelligent and well-read woman with good leadership qualities who rendered selfless service in her community. She served on the management committees of several associations and did relief work, while through her involvement with the President Steyn Memorial Fund, she also played an important role in youth education.
Charlotte Maxeke (née Manye) was a leader in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a social and political activist and the first black South African woman to graduate with a university degree: a BSc from Wilberforce University, Ohio, USA in 1901. She gave hope to the dejected and her life was an inspiration to all. She was a wife, mother, educationist, religious leader, social welfare worker, political activist and benefactor of humanity.
One of the key themes of South Africa’s long history of struggle, resistance and protest is women’s struggle for gender equality, female dignity, respect and basic human rights. This struggle has been fought by South Africa’s black and coloured women for more than a century and, sadly, the battle is not yet won. The appalling statistics of the prevalence of gender-based domestic violence against women and girls in South Africa is of national concern.