Department or Program



This thesis examines the role of women in the anti-apartheid movement, looking specifically at Mamphela Ramphele. Ramphele—an activist, doctor, academic, and politician—was Steve Biko’s romantic and political partner. When the Black Consciousness Movement and the South African Students Organization (SASO) emerged, Ramphele helped bolster them, working side by side with Biko and other young activists. Although we know a lot about Biko’s roles in fighting the apartheid state, Ramphele remains largely overlooked in the history of South Africa. Put simply, Ramphele has remained in the footnotes of most history textbooks. Drawing on both primary and secondary sources, I argue that Ramphele played a very crucial role in the fight against apartheid and that her experience reflects that of many other South African women. Overall, by studying Ramphele’s life and legacy closely, this thesis seeks to illustrate the complex, but overlooked, roles that women played in fighting apartheid and the challenges they encountered as they tried to navigate male-founded organizations.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Otim, Patrick

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.