2003• Community Service Award

>> Back to 2003 Awards


Zubeida Barmania was born in South Africa. She was educated in South Africa, India, the United Kingdom, Lebanon and Canada.

A Barrister at Law, having been called to the Bar in London. England, with an LLB from the University of Western Ontario Canada and a Masters degree from the American University of Beirut, Zubeida practised law briefly in South Africa, having pupilled under the late Chief Justice of South Africa and subsequently in Canada where she specialised in Pension Law.

Zubeida, the only daughter of a distinguished feminist leader, Fatima A.I. Kajee was encouraged to participate in community activities. In Canada she worked in various capacities as honorary Counsel, board director and advisor to, among others, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, the Canadian Bar Association Committee on Visible Minority Women, the South Africa Canada Association, the Association of Employees for Employment Equity, the Urdu Society of Canada, the Canadian Council for Muslim Women, the Raag Mala Society, and Islam–West.

It was in South Africa, encouraged by her mentor the late Chief Justice Ismail Mahomed and Dullah Omar the first black Minister of Justice, that she was to make her most significant contribution.

Zubeida was involved in a wide range of issues in South Africa including work at the renowned Community Law Centre at the University of the Western Cape, senior advisory work on retirement and pension issues, the South African Commission on Gender Equality to which she was appointed by former President Mandela following her nomination by a joint Committee of Parliament. She served on the Poverty Commission hearings in Eastern Cape, appeared before Parliamentary committees representing the Commission on Gender Equality.

From 1974 she worked for Ontario Hydro as a pensions lawyer and served on Employment Equity and Gender Issue Committees’ of Hydro and the Canadian Bar Association. In particular she organised the Committee on Visible Minority Women for the latter. From 1980 to 1993 she was Counsel to the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

Since returning to South Africa in 1993, Zubeida has worked with several Ministers and served on the Gender Equality and Poverty Commissions.

Appointed by the Minister of Finance, she now serves as a quasi-judicial officer sitting on the Review Board of Special Pension, a statutory board that determines pension eligibility for those who were involved in the liberation struggle.

In South Africa Zubeida has participated in seminars and held workshops as a Gender Commissioner and in the North West in particular pertaining to pension education.

A highlight of her role as Gender Commissioner was the invitation from Pakistan to spend five days giving televised seminars for an audience of 20 million viewers to address gender issues in Urdu.

Zubeida, through her biography, establishes her dedication to public service and equality issues.

South African Women for Women is pleased to present Zubeida the Community Service award, in recognition of her work in Canada and South Africa on gender equity and anti-poverty issues.