Rhoda Kadalie is Executive Director of the Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre set up in 1999 to reward social innovations (including government and civil society initiatives) that improve the quality of life of the poor. Every second year Impumelelo raises corporate sponsorships to award about 15-20 public/private projects that directly transform poor communities. She publishes an annual magazine that features the success stories of the award winners and this is distributed far and wide to promote the dissemination of best practice.
Prior to that she was a Human Rights Commissioner for three years, appointed by President Mandela in 1995, responsible for the Western and Northern Cape. As Human Rights Commissioner, she conducted investigations into human rights violations in the prisons in the Western and Northern Cape, the poverty conditions of farm workers in the Northern Cape, and children’s places of safety in Cape Town. Many of her investigations received wide media coverage and brought to the attention of government violations occurring within the state.
From 1976-1995 she was an academic, teaching social anthropology and women’s studies, and founder of the Gender Equity Unit at UWC. Kadalie has travelled extensively internationally, presenting lectures and papers on human rights and gender politics in South Africa. In 1999 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in the Liberal Arts from the University of Uppsala, Sweden. In 2008, she received an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, the University of the Western Cape; and in 2010 the University of Stellenbosch bestowed a Doctor of Philosophy Honoris Causa on her. Kadalie has served on UCT’s Council for about nine years and on University of Stellenbosch’s Council for two years.
She received a Human Rights Award in Toronto Canada on the 10th August 2003 in honour of SA National Women’s Day. In 2010 she received the Rapport/City Press Prestige Award for column writing. Kadalie has been featured in numerous magazines, newspaper articles and many books and has written many articles and chapters in books about gender politics, liberalism, foreign policy, reproductive rights, and some biographical essays. Her book, In Your Face: Passionate Conversations about People and Politics, was published by Tafelberg in 2009. Her second e-booklet, The Politics of Pregnancy, also published in collaboration with her daughter, Julia Bertelsmann, by Tafelberg, is part of a series called, Kort en Kragtig, To the Point, 2012.
Kadalie has been a guest columnist for the Business Day, a national newspaper daily in South Africa, Die Burger and all its sister titles for many years. Currently she writes for The Citizen and Beeld and her column is syndicated to all Afrikaans newspapers. She has taught for seven weeks on the Semester at Sea Ship (University of Virginia) during 2011, sailing from Ghana to Cape Town.