Magodonga Mahlangu & Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)

Magodonga Mahlangu is a women’s rights campaigner from Zimbabwe who in 2009 was awarded the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Mahlangu is a leader of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), founded with Jenni Williams. When presenting the award to Magodonga and WOZA, Obama commented: “By her example, Magodonga has shown the women of WOZA and the people of Zimbabwe that they can undermine their oppressors’ power with their own power — that they can sap a dictator’s strength with their own. Her courage has inspired others to summon theirs.” In her remarks accepting the award, Mahlangu quoted Robert F. Kennedy, saying, “The future is not a gift: it is an achievement. Every generation helps make its own future.”

As of 2008, Mahlangu had been arrested more than 25 times and by 2011, over 30 times. Human Rights Watch denounced the repeated arrests of Mahlangu and Williams, stating after one arrest that the Zimbabwean government should release the women and “allow civil society the right to demonstrate peacefully”.