PRETORIA, 3 June 2011 - UNICEF would like to pay tribute to the life of Albertina Sisulu, who sadly passed away at the age of 92 in her home in Johannesburg. She was a woman of great courage, conviction and passion, and a tireless advocate for South Africa’s children.
On the eve of the country’s transition to democracy, Mrs. Sisulu played a pivotal role in advocating for the protection, rights and importance of putting all of South Africa’s children at the top of the political agenda. She argued that children had already paid far too high a price in the country’s struggle for freedom. She was a powerful voice for children who were displaced, maimed and victims of political violence.
In 1990, Mrs. Sisulu was at the forefront of setting up the National Children’s Rights Committee, which was supported with financial, administrative and humanitarian assistance from UNICEF. This body, an umbrella organization for civil society groups working for children ‘s rights, became instrumental in making sure the principles of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of Children were included in the country’s democratic Constitution and Bill of Rights. It also paved the way for UNICEF to engage in the country and establish an office.
As the NCRC’s patron and moral leader, she was instrumental in ensuring that after the country’s first democratic elections, it took center stage, being transformed into the Children’s Desk in the Office of the President as well as in all nine Provincial Premier’s offices. This work laid the foundation for the National Programme of Action for Children, which mapped out plans for the realization of all South African’s children’s rights.
Today, as we join South African’s in mourning her loss, we remember the significant contribution Mrs. Sisulu played in the liberation struggle and her tireless work to realize the rights of all South African’s children.
For more information, please contact:
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York
Tel + 1 212 326-7452