JOHANNESBURG – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Sunday wrapped up her official three-day visit to South Africa, a trip focused on defending social and gender equality, on a day on which she visited the Robben Island prison, where Nelson Mandela, the first black South African president, was held for years.
Bachelet said she was impressed with her visit to the old prison and once again remarked – as she had noted last Friday after meeting with South Africa head of state Jacob Zuma – that Mandela is an inspiration for her policies of social inclusion in Chile.
In the last of her official acts on South African territory, Bachelet delivered a speech on gender questions at the University of Cape Town in which she urged the creation of societies where women have the opportunity to reach their full potential and contribute to the development of their communities.
Bachelet – whose address was preceded by one given by Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel – said that women had achieved emancipation and must now guarantee themselves an environment in which they can get along without discrimination.
In her speech, which was rebroadcast live via the Internet, Bachelet also emphasized the importance of “symbolic gestures” in the fight for gender equality.
“Laws are not enough, we also need symbolic gestures,” Bachelet said.
Bachelet is scheduled to fly from Cape Town to the capital of Mozambique, Maputo, where on Monday she will meet with that country’s president, Armando Guebuza.