AnnMarie Wolpe was a pioneer in gender and education

2018-02-20 06:40
AnnMarie Wolpe, a struggle activist who did pioneering work on gender and education, died on February 14, 2017. (Photo supplied, GroundUp)

AnnMarie Wolpe, a struggle activist who did pioneering work on gender and education, died on February 14, 2017. (Photo supplied, GroundUp)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - AnnMarie Wolpe, struggle activist, a pioneer in gender and education and the widow of one of Nelson Mandela's fellow Rivonia trialists, has died.

She passed away in her sleep on Wednesday February 14. She was 87 years old, GroundUp reported on Monday.

Wolpe was born in Johannesburg as AnnMarie Kantor and educated at the University of the Witwatersrand. Here, she met her husband, the late Harold Wolpe. He was arrested in July 1963 alongside Nelson Mandela and his ANC comrades, who would eventually become known as the Rivonia trialists.

The Wolpes had three children – Peta, Tessa and Nicholas.

Her first job was working as an assistant to Helen Joseph in the Transvaal Clothing Industry Medical Aid Society. She then ran a bursary fund for African students.

In 1963, she played a key part in planning the daring and dramatic escape, from the Marshall Square police cells, of her husband, Harold, along with Arthur Goldreich, Mosie Moola and Abdulhai Jassat.

She would smuggle tungsten blades in French loaves and other tools inside a roasted chicken.

She and Harold communicated through secret notes hidden in the collar of his shirts, which she was allowed to take home and launder.

Exile

After his escape, she was arrested in an attempt to extract information.

When she was released, she was ordered to leave the country. She left her three young children, aged between three months and six years. Nicholas, who was a baby at the time, was still recovering from a rare form of nearly fatal and virulent pneumonia.

In England, with very little money or experience, Wolpe managed to develop a career in academia and set up a home for her family. Her first academic job was at the University of Bradford in the unit for Yugoslav Studies.

As was her engaging and energetic manner, she learnt Serbo-Croat – travelling to what was then Yugoslavia. This also resulted in the family taking holidays on a tiny island off the coast of Yugoslavia.

When the family returned to London she obtained a position at what is now Middlesex University in the Development of Women's Studies programme where she later obtained her PhD.

She spearheaded gender studies and was a founding member of the journal, Feminist Review, a leading voice on gender equality that started in 1979.

She wrote three academic books on gender and education and one autobiography.

Return to South Africa

On her return to South Africa in 1991, she worked first in the Centre for Adult and Continuing Education and then at the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Western Cape, until she retired in 1998.

Wolpe headed up the Gender Equity Task Team called for by the Minister of Education. As a result of its recommendations, a Gender Equity Directorate was established in the national Department of Education.

Wolpe, like many women of that era, not only supported her husband in the struggle, but played a significant role in the anti-apartheid struggle herself.

She passed away after battling lung cancer and emphysema. Her last years were spent in Cape Town, surrounded by her family. Busy till the end, she made mosaics and had been writing a memoir.

She always was there to help others no matter who they were. She was flamboyant and always elegant – a beautiful woman in all ways.

The memorial service will be on Friday at 11:00 at Temple Israel, Upper Portswood Road, Green Point.

Read more on:    education  |  politics  |  gender rights

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.