It was through the struggles of the Bantu Women's League that the ANC was forced, in the 1940s, to admit females as members. Hence the birth of the ANC Women's League in 1948.
But unfortunately, over the past decade and a half, the women's league veered off this mission - allowing itself to be used as a pawn in power struggles that largely benefited men at the expense of women.
When, for instance, the league had a chance of demanding that a woman becomes ANC deputy president when the party went to its national conference in 2007, it abandoned that cause in support of a pro-Jacob Zuma slate.
It did the same five years later in Mangaung and only changed its stance in 2017 for reasons that seemed less concerned about women empowerment than with protecting Zuma.
It is with this history in mind that we are impressed by the principled stance the women's league has taken in recent weeks as President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC were busy putting together their government teams. The league won major battles, forcing the party to accept that in provinces where premiers are male, 60% of the executive should be made up of women. It also pushed hard at national government level that at least 50% of ministers be women.
At the helm of this struggle was its president Bathabile Dlamini. She was excluded from cabinet for the right reasons, but we must give her credit for taking the struggle for gender parity to a new and higher level.