Ruth Mompati was born in 1925 in Vryburg, North West Province. She worked as a teacher until 1952 when she got married and her employment was automatically terminated.
From 1953 to 1961 she worked as a typist for Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo in their law practice in Johannesburg. In 1954, she was joined the African National Congress (ANC) and was elected to the National Executive Committee of the Women’s League.
Mompati was involved in the Defiance Campaign in 1952, and was a founding member of theFederation of South African Women (FEDSAW) in 1954. She was later one of the leaders of the Women’s March on the 9th August 1956.
She went into exile in 1962 where she underwent military training and held office as secretary and head of the Women’s section of the ANC in Tanzania. From 1966 to 1973, Mompati remained a member of the ANC’s National Executive Council. During this time, she also formed part of the president’s office of the ANC.
One of Mompati’s more prominent roles is the one she played as the head of the ANC’s Board of Religious Affairs. Between 1981 and 1982, Mompati served as the chief representative of the ANC in the United Kingdom and became part of the delegation that opened talks with the South African government at Groote Schuur in 1990.
On 10 August 1992, a day after the anniversary of the historic Women’s March to Pretoria in 1956, she addressed the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid in New York on the subject of women. The day was then declared an International Day of Solidarity with Women in South Africa.
In 1994, she was elected a member of parliament in the National Assembly. She was appointed ambassador to Switzerland from 1996 to 2000 and on her return became the mayor of Vryburg (Naledi) in the North-West Province.