Wendy Jasmine PEKEUR
AFRICA · South Africa
A trade union for those who feed the nation
Wendy Jasmine Pekeur (31) is the General Secretary of ‘Sikhula Sonke’, a South African trade union, which represents rural women farmers. Wendy’s ambitions were conceived in her childhood, when she worked on the farm of her grandparents in the province of Western Cape. At the age of six, she witnessed violence in her home due to her father’s use of alcohol and drugs.
At 18, she took her first steps in an organisation called “Woman and violence ” which was campaigning to bring to justice a man who had killed his wife. Wendy explained her motivation as follows: “I chose the cause of farm workers, because I had worked as one on a fruit farm and knew their life. Women farmers earn the lowest wages in South Africa, and it is grimly ironic that what they produce feeds the nation and brings profits (while) they live in the direst poverty, often virtually starving.” She opposes domestic violence and discrimination against women farm workers who, contrary to men, do not have any protective clothing against pesticides.
After ending her studies, Wendy worked as a volunteer for the organisation “Women of Farm Projects ” (WFP). This organisation enabled Wendy and other women to acquire the experience and maturity needed to launch a trade union for women, run by women, “Sikhula Sonke ”. They have launched a series of community projects, such as the protection of children, the organisation of transport for people living on isolated farms, and the fight for a minimum wage and stable work for women agricultural workers. A major victory is to have obtained greater security for divorced and single women. Wendy wishes that men will sign a declaration committing themselves to end violence against women and children. She refuses all compromise on issues of gender.