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Frances Baard

The Order of Luthuli in

Frances Baard Awarded for:
Her exceptional contribution to the struggle for equality and democracy. Her pursuit of justice is a legacy she left behind to inspire generations.
Profile of Frances Baard

Frances Baard was born in 1901 in Kimberley, Northern Cape. Before she became an educator, Baard worked as a domestic worker. She saw the injustice and became part of men and women who fought for South Africa to be free from oppression. She was supported and influenced by Raymond Mhlaba and Ray Alexander.

Baard was an effective organiser during the 1952 Defiance Campaign. She was part of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL). She was appointed as secretary and treasurer of the ANCWL’s Port Elizabeth branch. Later on Baard became the national treasurer of the ANCWL and on the executive committee of the Federation of South African Women in the mid-1950s.

Baard was part of the drafting of the Freedom Charter in 1955 and also was one of the demonstrators who played a leading role in the Women’s march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, to protest against the pass laws. She was a defendant in the Treason Trial and became a member of the executive committee of the South African Congress of Trade Unions. Baard’s activism landed her in jail for 12 months in solitary confinement in 1963. This did not deter her from the struggle. Very soon after her release from solitary confinement, Baard was sentenced to five years imprisonment for ANC activities and in terms of the Suppression of Communism Act in 1964.

After her release Baard was banned and restricted to Mabopane. In the 1980s, while the ANC was banned, Baard worked with the United Democratic Front, which opposed the introduction of Botha’s Tricameral Parliament.

Baard died in 1997 but her legacy lives on.