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Background Information


Hon. Frene Ginwala, Speaker of National Assembly, South Africa

Biographic Details

Date of Birth : 25 April 1932
Place of Birth : Johannesburg, South Africa
Academic LL.B (London)
Barrister at Law (Inner Temple)
D.Phil (Oxon)

-- Former Speaker of the National Assembly since 1994 - 2004
-- Member of the National Assembly
-- President: South African Speakers' Forum
-- Co-Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (South African branch) and the International Parliamentary Union (South African branch)
-- Executive member of the SADC Parliamentary Forum
-- Chairperson of the African Union (AU) steering committee on the Pan African Parliament

Political Offices: ANC

-- Member of the National Executive Committee (NEC)
-- Member of NEC Sub-committee on Governance and Legislature
-- Member of the ANC Constitutional Commission
-- Chair: ANC Committee for Retrieval and Deposit of ANC Archives


-- Co-Chairperson : Global Coalition for Africa (GCA)
-- Board Member: Development Policy Management Forum

Other Offices:

-- Chancellor of the Port Elizabeth Technikon
-- Honorary Fellow, Linacre College, Oxford, United Kingdom
-- Patron, Group for Environmental Monitoring (GEM) Trust
-- Patron and Trustee, President's Award for Youth Empowerment
-- Patron, Transparency International, South Africa
-- Patron, Ma Afrika Awards
-- Trustee, Nelson Mandela Trust
-- Trustee, Freedom Park Trust
-- Democracy Coalition Project Advisory Board Member


-- North-South Prize winner, North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, 2003
-- Doctor Technologie (hc) PE Technikon, 2003
-- LLD (hc) from University of Connecticut USA, 2002
-- Global Award for Outstanding Contribution for Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy Priyadarshni Academy, India, 2000
-- Women of the Year Award (2000) University of Pretoria Law Faculty
-- Grand Officier de l'Ordre National Ivory Coast, 1998
-- LLD (hc) University of Cape Town, 1997
-- LLD (hc) Rhodes University, 1996
-- LLD (hc) University of Natal, 1996


-- Women and the Elephant: Putting Women on the Agenda, S Bazilli (ed.), Raven Press, Johannesburg, 1991
-- Gender and Economic Policy in a Democratic South Africa: Ginwala, Mackintosh and Massey, Open University, UK, 1991
-- Women and the African National Congress: 1912-1943, Agenda, No 8, 1990
-- Women in the ANC - A critical overview and perspectives, Malibongwe Conference Papers, 1989
-- Sanctions: South Africa in Question: John Lonsdale (ed) Heinemann, London, 1988
-- Indian South Africans, Minority Rights Commission, No. 34, 1977
-- Workers Under Apartheid: United Nations, 1973
-- Press in South Africa: United Nations, 1972
-- Women Under Apartheid: UNESCO (co-author)


Dr Ginwala has been a longstanding member of the African National Congress. In 1960 she left South Africa to arrange the escape of the late O R Tambo and help establish the external mission of the ANC. Dr Ginwala became Head of the Political Research Unit in the office of President Tambo and was known for her research on South Africa's nuclear programme, sanctions, and the arms and oil embargo. She also lectured at universities and institutions in a number of countries and participated in various UN, UNESCO and other international conferences on South Africa, Conflict Research, Women, Development and Technology Transfer. Dr Ginwala was the ANC Spokesperson in the UK and also worked in Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique.

After more than 30 years in exile Dr Ginwala returned to South Africa when the ANC was unbanned. She became a Member of Mr Mandela's Secretariat in the ANC President's Office. Between 1991 and 1994, Dr Ginwala headed the ANC's Research Department. She also served as the Deputy Head of the ANC Commission for the Emancipation of Women and was the ANC Representative on the Science and Technology Initiative.

During the negotiation process, Dr Ginwala was a member of the ANC team at CODESA. In the Multi-Party Negotiations she served as a member of the Technical Committee responsible for drafting new laws on elections and the Independent Electoral Commission.

Dr Ginwala entered Parliament in 1994 and was elected Speaker of South Africa's first democratically elected National Assembly. Following the 1999 elections she was re-elected to that Office.

Dr Ginwala remains an active member of the ANC and is committed to the achievement of substantive equality for women. She was a founder member and the first National Convenor of the Women's National Coalition, which brought South African women from across the political, economic, social and religious spheres together in order to ensure that South Africa's new Constitution provided a legal framework for effective equality. Dr Ginwala later led the South African Parliamentary Delegation to the Beijing Women's Conference.

Dr Ginwala was previously a board member of International IDEA as well as the former Chairperson of the SADC Parliamentary Forum. She was a former member of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Panel of High-Level Personalities on African Development and recently served as a Commissioner of the international Commission on Human Security. Dr Ginwala continues to work on issues of democracy, development and human rights at the UN, AU and other international fora.


2004 Policy Forum - Migration and Development in Africa
TICAD Asia-Africa Trade and Investment Conference (AATIC) - Tokyo, Japan - November 1 and 2, 2004
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