Google has dedicated its search engine home page to world-renowned anti-apartheid activist, Helen Joseph in honour of her 116th birthday.
The Google doodle of the day has Joseph, who died in 1993, a year before South Africa’s democracy – carrying a stack of papers in one hand and giving the thumbs up with the other.
Helen Joseph, who was born April 8, 1905, in England and grew up in Sussex is being honoured for dedicating her life to campaign for democracy, equal rights.
She graduated from King College in London with a degree in English in 1927 and moved to Hyderabad in India where she taught English for three years at Mahbubia Girls School.
In 1931, she arrived in Durban to continue her teaching job. It was here that she found love with Billie Joseph whom she later married.
After moving to Pretoria during World War 2 she worked as an information and welfare officer in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force where she taught women about the South African government system, and was exposed to the country’s inequality.
According to records about her life, the harsh reality inspired her to become a social worker and passionately devote herself to campaign for women’s and people rights.
Joseph would later join the Garment Worker’s Union which was spearheaded by fellow anti-apartheid activist Solly Sachs and was one of the founding members of the Congress of Democrats, which worked with the ANC to demolish the apartheid.
She was was one of the founders of the Federation of South African Women along Lillian Ngoyi, Francis Baard, Ray Simons, Rahima Moosa, Amina Cachalia, Albertina Sisulu, Ruth Mompati, Dora Tamana, and Ama Naidoo.
In 1955 Joseph read out the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in Kliptown on June 26, 1955.
In one of her more memorable campaign, on 9 August 1956, she lead 20,000 women of all races to march against the government’s pass laws under the slogan: “You strike a woman, you strike a rock”.
The day has since the dawn of democracy been celebrated as Women’s Day in South Africa.
Joseph was one of the accused in the Treason Trial which was the South African apartheid government’s response to the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People.
The trial lasted until 1961 when all the accused were found not-guilty.
In 1962, Helen became the first person to be placed under house arrest for her opposition against the government.
A ban which was lifted when she was 80 years old.
In 1992, Helen was given the Isitwalandwe/Seaparankwe Medal by the ANC, and the Order of Simon of Cyrene by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Several roads and buildings are named after her, including the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg.