ANC Central number - 011 376 1000

Third National Conference: Declaration

Third National Conference: Declaration

27 April 1997

1. This THIRD NATIONAL CONFERENCE of the ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE - meeting from the 24-27 April 1997 - brought together representatives of members and supporters of the ANCWL from throughout the country to review progress in our work and chart the way forward into the next millennium. Assembled at CONFERENCE were women from all walks of life - rural women, the unemployed, working women, professionals, legislators and ministers - reflecting the broad base of the League as well as the advances that we have made as a result of the people`s victory over apartheid.

2. CONFERENCE noted with pride the role of the ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE and South African women in general in realising the new democratic order based on principles of democracy, non-sexism and non-racialism. We are profoundly proud that, in the mass actions, in the trenches of armed struggle, in the negotiations and in the historic elections campaign, members of the League were found at the forefront of the efforts and sacrifices which brought about the democratic breakthrough in April 1994.

3. We are humbled that our CONFERENCE rises on this, the third anniversary of South African Freedom Day. This realization was an added spur on the delegates as they went about the business of CONFERENCE to ensure that we emerge from CONFERENCE united more than ever before, fired up more than ever before, and determined more than at any other time in our history to lead South Africa`s women in the struggle to accomplish the dream of millions for a society without gender discrimination. We are keenly aware that a heavy responsibility rests on our shoulders, issuing from the squalor and pangs of hunger of women and children who were condemned to poverty by apartheid; from the cries of pain and anguish of the thousands who are victims of abuse and other violent crimes; from the yearning of millions of women for jobs and skills, eager and capable, but kept from responsibilities they deserve by the stubborn culture and practice of gender discrimination.

4. Indeed, if anything, these realities served as a reminder to the delegates that the freedoms our society has attained are but a victory in one important battle in the protracted war against all forms of discrimination. In this first CONFERENCE after April 1994, delegates also paid tribute to the heroines and heroes who fell on the road to freedom. We remain indebted to them, and we owe it to them to unite and mobilise South African women and the population at large to realise the objectives of reconstruction and development.

5. CONFERENCE received with enthusiasm the common message from the Deputy President of the ANC, the President of the ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE and indeed the overwhelming majority of the delegates for us to correct the mistakes of the past, build on the many successes we have registered and march into the 21 st century as a leading force in the democratic women`s movement in South Africa.

6. It is in this spirit that CONFERENCE got down to business, and emerged with resolutions, decisions and programmes of action which have set us along the road to these objectives.

7. CONFERENCE honestly reviewed the state of organization of the League and noted that, whilst most structures remained intact and operational, they had been greatly immobilized by the conflict that had gripped the national leadership. CONFERENCE deply regretted this experience and resolved that it should never happen again. In the content of the resolutions adopted, CONFERENCE has sent a strong message within its ranks, to the public at large and to the enemies of democracy that the ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE is united, determined and resolved to be at the forefront of the struggle for gender and social emancipation.

8. CONFERENCE reaffirmed the unswerving adherence of the ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE to the policies and objectives of the ANC, in whose formulation the League took an active part. CONFERENCE also reiterated the principle of the League`s organizational autonomy, and the centrality of consistent and unwavering commitment to democratic practices within the League, including criticism and self-criticism within our structures.

9. CONFERENCE discussed and took decisions on many strategic and urgent matters pertaining to the cause of social and gender emancipation:


  • CONFERENCE examined and expressed satisfaction at the progress our government is making in improving the lives of our people for the better. We are encouraged by the progress we are making in democratizing our institutions of government, making them more representative, the transformation of the education system, more accessible health care, legislation that is sensitive to the disadvantaged and the visible commitment to combat poverty as demonstrated in our latest Budget.

  • CONFERENCE committed the ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE to strive for an accelerated programme of delivery of to our people , greater participation by women and targeted delivery towards rural areas.


  • CONFERENCE did thorough examination of the state of organization. We accept with enthusiasm, the challenge to build the Women`s League into a strong, vibrant and democratic organization. The building of active branches in all our communities, development and training, a widespread participation of women from all sectors in the activities of the ANC Women`s League, and the establishment of a reliable membership system.

  • We commit ourselves to work for even stronger relationship with the ANC and be the nucleus for mobilising women behind our movement.

  • The mobilisation of the broadest movement of women behind the goal of a non-racial, united, non-sexist and democratic South Africa is critical. Our relationship with the National Women`s Coalition should be constantly reviewed with the goal to locate the ANC Women`s League at the head of the women`s march for transformation and development.


  • We condemn the despicable abuse of women and children that is so prevalent in our society. We once more endorse the National Crime Prevention Strategy and urge all the women of our country to join the march against crime and violence. Once more we say: No to violence against women and children!


  • CONFERENCE instructed the National Executive Committee to convene a Special Conference on Women and Economic Empowerment for formulate a comprehensive programme to eliminate gender and racial discrimination in the management and ownership of the wealth of the country, to address unemployment amongst women and to eliminate gender discrimination in the workplace.

  • The ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE believes that the initiatives of government to ensure economic empowerment through programmes such as land redistribution and support to small scale farmers, industrial restructuring and various mechanisms to support small and micro enterprises, training and affirmative action in the workplace, must form the cornerstone of women`s economic advancements.


  • CONFERENCE was graced with the presence of representatives from allied organisations from other countries and received messages from many other allies in the struggle for emancipation.

  • Indeed, CONFERENCE reaffirmed the position of the ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE as one among many contingents in the international army of fighters for a better world of peace, prosperity, social equity and gender equality.

  • CONFERENCE expressed its solidarity with the women and people of Africa in this historic era of mobilisation for her renaissance, in the context of economic growth, development, peace, democracy and social justice.

  • CONFERENCE welcomed representatives from PUDEMO in Swaziland and the General Union of Palestine Women and expressed solidarity with the struggle for democracy of the people of Swaziland and the struggle for self-determination of the Palestine people.

  • We again rededicate ourselves to renew and strengthen relations with women`s organisations who share our goals for woman`s development along progressive policies both in Africa and the world.

  • In particular we undertake to add our part in building an effective African women`s movement and work closely with the women of Southern Africa.

  • The carnage in Zaire and other conflict ridden countries in Africa must be halted. We support the actions of our government in trying to help find a solution. However, for this effort to succeed, it requires active participation of women in the processes to find a speedy and lasting resolution to the problems

10. The ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE emerges from this CONFERENCE reinforced in its commitment to the objectives a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. We pledge to spare neither effort nor strength in the struggle to achieve these objectives.

11. We are mindful of the fact that the consolidation of democracy and the betterment of the quality of life of the people requires even more determination on the part of the democratic movement. We are mindful too that elements of the past order are bent on reversing the gains scored by the democratic movement. The outcome of this CONFERENCE is a message to these forces that their efforts will meet the rock of a determined women`s movement, hand-in-hand with other forces of democracy.

12. Above all, it is a message to the people of our country that the ANC WOMEN`S LEAGUE is both ready and mobilised to join them in the continuing struggle for social and gender emancipation. Nothing will divert us from this cause.





Join the ANC Women's League

Progressive Business ForumANC Youth LeagueCOSATU