Ten South African human rights achievements

South Africa has made some astounding strides in recognising and achieving human rights in the past 23 years. In the run up to Human Rights Day, we look back at some milestones.

Human rights achievements
South Africa is admired around the world for its human rights record. (Image: Flickr, Jeremy Schultz)

Shamin Chibba

Since the advent of democracy in South Africa 23 years ago, human rights have played an important role in each of our lives. There have been numerous human rights achievements over the past two decades, the greatest being the Constitution, which was signed into law on 18 December 1996.

We present 10 noteworthy feats that changed the country, one of which was the global acknowledgement of South Africa’s sophisticated understanding of human rights.

1994: Free health care for pregnant women and children under the age of six is introduced.

1995: The death penalty is abolished.

Also in 1995: The South African Human Rights Commission is established in October to promote and protect human rights.

1998: The government passes the Domestic Violence Act to curb the number of incidents and protect victims.

Also in 1998: The government launches the child support grant to help children under the age of seven with R100 a month. Today all children under 18 are included and receive R350 a month.

no fee schools
No-fee schools ensure every child has access to basic education, which is a right according to the Constitution. (Image: Shamin Chibba)

2006: Same sex marriage is made legal on 30 November.

2007: No-fee schools are introduced throughout the country. At the time, 5 million children were set to benefit.

Navi Pillay
Navi Pillay’s appointment as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was an indication that South Africa is highly regarded for its human rights. (Image: Flickr, Australian Human Rights Commission)

2008: South African jurist Navi Pillay begins her term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 1 September, a post she holds for six years. This was an indication that the world acknowledged South Africa’s sophisticated understanding of human rights.

2016: NGO Operation Hydrate is established on 4 January to distribute water to drought stricken areas in South Africa. Within three months, the organisation donates 9 million litres of water.

Operation hydrate
Operation Hydrate looks to collect R95-million by Nelson Mandela Day, 18 July 2016. (Image: Operation Hydrate Facebook)

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.