Project Description

Born 1928, in Grey Street, Durban. Fatima attended the Durban Indian Girls’ High School and subsequently went to the University of Natal, where she completed a Masters degree in Sociology.

Fatima was brought up in an atmosphere that was highly conscious of racial discrimination and that shaped her into a tireless defender of the oppressed. From 1946 to 1948 Meer established the Student Passive Resistance Committee. She helped establish the Durban districts Women’s League to build alliances between Africans and Indians, after the race riots that occurred between the two groups in 1949.

Fatima’s activities led to her banning in 1952. She became a founding member of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) that spearheaded the historical women’s march to the Union Buildings 9 August 1956. During the 1960s, Fatima organised night vigils and in the 1970s when the Black Consciousness Movement was starting to dominate, she was again banned and was subsequently detained for trying to organise a rally with Steve Biko.

From the 1980s to the 1990s, Fatima worked with NGOs, fighting for the rights of shack-dwellers and rural migrants. She headed the Natal Education Trust, which built schools in Umlazi, Port Shepstone and Inanda, the Tembalihle Tutorial College in Phoenix and a Crafts Center.  Fatima published more than forty books on a wide variety of subjects.

Fatima won numerous awards for her activities, to name a few:

  • Union of South African Journalists in 1975,
  • Imam Abdullah Haroon Award for the Struggle against Oppression and Racial Discrimination in 1990,
  • Vishwa Gurjari Award for Contribution to Human Rights in 1994 and
  • Top 100 Women Who Shook South Africa’ in 1999.

She died on March of 2010.