Abortion Support South Africa and Oxfam South Africa
In February 2023, Abortion Support South Africa launched a telemedical service that provides first-trimester terminations, in collaboration with pharmacies, to give women access to safe abortions at the affordable rate of R180 for the medication.
The organisation, founded by Gaopalelwe Phalaetsile, 32, in 2016, has been helping women access safe abortion clinics online, as a referral service, with volunteers using their own data and resources. She provides strategic leadership in the day-to-day running of Abortion Support South Africa, gives guidance to the team on ensuring its model works for South Africa and liaises with funders and potential funders.
Gaopalelwe lives her feminism and is focused on solutions rather than problems. The mother of two’s commitment to safe abortions is unwavering and she has been championing this since she went public about surviving an unsafe abortion in 2009.
Gaopalelwe takes her inspiration from her grandmother who stood up for her when a man, who had been preying on her as a child, complained she had been disrespectful by swearing at him. “My grandmother told him she allowed me to swear at all men who made sexual gestures to me. She was a feminist in her own right and, while she didn’t know the term, she stood for the values of feminism.” Gaopalelwe is also a digital campaigns manager at Oxfam South Africa, in charge of digital storytelling and campaigning.
Bachelor’s degree, politics and philosophy, Wits University
Registering Abortion Support South Africa was a big milestone.
My grandmother believed no child was disrespectful unless they were disrespected first. She valued our views and opinions and stood up for me when an old man who had been trying to prey on me as a child complained to her that I had been disrespectful by swearing at him. My grandmother told him she allowed me to swear at all men who made sexual gestures to me. She was a feminist in her own right and, while she didn’t know the term, she stood for the values of feminism.
Your actions should speak as loud as your words.
More feminist, valuing justice, power sharing, fairness and ending inequality.