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Navi Pillay: Overcoming The Odds

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Chapter Summary

Navanetham Pillay, is one of four daughters of a bus driver, who grew up in Clairwood in apartheid South Africa and who practised as an attorney: she broke through many concrete ceilings to become what she is today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She received her political education as part of the Unity Movement while she was at the black section of Natal University. She has been critical of the Unity Movement for their aloofness from many of the political realities of that day, including their lack of concern for gender issues which some members believed detracted from the main struggle of political liberation. The more notable achievements of Navi Pillay included the fact that she had a twenty-eight year career as an attorney and represented a number of people who dared to question the system of apartheid.

Keywords: attorney; Human Rights; Navanetham Pillay; South Africa; Unity Movement



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