Human Rights - South Africa

Human rights

Finding solutions together

Human rights should apply worldwide, to all people, in all places, at all times. The Netherlands spends € 4,5 million annually to promote human right throughout the globe. In South Africa, we partner with the South African government and non-governmental organizations. We focus on equal rights for women and LGBTI, but also engage on other human rights topics.

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Through our Human Rights Fund we support several local organisations in achieving their human right goals. For an overview of our main partners, see the document attached below.

Women's rights

‘Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.’  Maya Angelou, American writer and poet

In South Africa, promoting women’s rights is the number one priority of our human rights policy. We aim to achieve gender equality along two mutually reinforcing tracks: eliminating violence against women and promoting economic empowerment.

When women get the opportunity to become financially independent, they become socially independent too and therefore less prone to domestic violence. This is the core vision of organizations like Rhiza Babuyile, that provides women entrepreneurs in several townships with coaching and a start-up capital. In Cape Town Mhani Gingi has set up a soap factory in a shelter for abused women, where the women can find work and receive entrepreneurship training.

LGBTI rights

To those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, let me say, you are not alone. Your struggle for an end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle. Any attack on you, is an attack on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to defend and uphold.’

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to introduce same-sex marriage (2001). In 2006, South Africa was the first African country and the fourth country in the world to follow.

The Netherlands works together with South African organisations in promoting equal rights for and eliminating violence against LGBTI people in Africa. Our main partner in this regard is the Centre for Human Rights (CHR).

The Netherlands has supported the establishment of the LGBTI-unit at the Centre for Human Rights, where CHR provides training for LGBTI organisations and civil servants from Africa. The programme also allocates scholarships to LGBTI activists from Africa. It has a strong multilateral component: it is actively involved in lobby work at both the UN and the AU; and assists other African LGBTI organisations to access these institutions.

Peace and Justice

‘Let this, however, be clear: there is no place in a democracy for any community to impose its will at the expense of the fundamental rights of any other citizen.’

Nelson Mandela, first democratic president of South Africa

Without the promotion of human rights, there can be no true democracy or a just rule of law. Therefore, we support projects that sustain South Africa as a just and peaceful society in various ways, including the promotion of socio-economic rights.

A good example of this is YouthZones, a project that creates safe spaces for the youth in low-income communities, where youth and children can play freely, learn IT-skills and get assistance in developing their businesses.  

Human Rights Tulip

The Dutch government also organizes The Human Rights Tulip, an annual prize for people that advance human rights. For more information, see:

To get more information on the overall Dutch human rights policy, visit the website: or see the document attached below ‘Justice and Respect for All’.


Please contact the embassy if you would like to apply for funding or discuss collaboration. Space for new partnerships is unfortunately very limited.


Guideline Proposals Human Rights Fund
PDF document | 3 pages | 178 kB