Feroza Adam was born on the 16 August 1961. She was drawn into political activity in 1976 while she was a student at Lenasia’s Nirvana High School. While studying for a Bachelor of Arts at the University Witwatersrand, she became active in student politics. During this time she participated in various community organisations and youth structures of the Transvaal Indian Congress. She was elected on to the executive committees of the Azanian Student’s Organisation. After completing a post-graduate education diploma, Adams taught for five years in state and private schools.
In 1982, she began her long involvement with the women’s movement when she became a member of the Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW). FEDTRAW became one of the United Democratic Front (UDF) affiliates. Between 1984 and 1990, Adam worked as publicity secretary for the executive of the federation. Then in 1988 she began working full-time as National co-ordinator of the UDF and structures of the Mass Democratic Movement until 1990.
Following the unbanning of the African National C, she was seconded to the Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging (PWV) region of the ANC to assist in setting up the office. She worked as campaigns and publicity secretary for the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) PWV executive from 1992 to 1993. Adam was on the steering committee that brought about the National Women’s Coalition (NWC) and in addition worked as the convenor of the NWC in the PWV area.
Her involvement in public relations work for the ANC took her on a course in international relations and diplomatic training at the Clingendael Institute for International Relations in Holland. With the first democratic election of a new ANC led government in 1994, Adam moved to Cape Town to serve as a Member of Parliament for the ANC. Her considerable personal power, ability to communicate, organise and speak with conviction in public meant that she was a force to be reckoned with. She identified as a feminist and political activist with pride and an irrepressible optimism.
Adam died tragically in a car accident on National Women's Day, 9th August 1994 shortly after becoming a member of South Africa's first democratically elected government. In a statement the ANC said that Feroza had been "a fierce opponent of apartheid and a tenacious fighter against gender discrimination" and that "she was a living embodiment of the struggle that brought a democratic government to this country".
In her honour, The Feroza Adam Memorial lecture was initiated by the Institute for Gender Studies in 1994. It is now collaboratively organised annually by the Institute for Gender Studies and the UNISA Women's Forum. In a statement, UNISA said of Adams:
“It is always with enormous gratitude and humility that Unisa remembers this remarkable woman, who left an indelible mark on every person whose life she touched. Her willingness to speak her mind, to honour her beliefs and live her values made her a very powerful role model for women across all sectors of South African society. To this end, we again honour her life and contribution.”
Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, (2000), Women Marching into the 21st Century: Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo. (Pretoria), p.45|Nxumalo, S, (1994), Death Of a Passionate Woman Mourned, from the Mail and Guardian, 12 August, [online], Available at www.mg.co.za [Accessed 10 August 2011]|Death of Feroza Adam, from the African National Congress, [online], Available at www.anc.org.za , [Accessed 25 November 2009]|Feroza Adam - a brief biography [online], Available at www.anc.org.za [Accessed 25 November 2009]|Hasssim, S. (2007), Profile of Feroza Adam from the Annual UNISA Womens Day lunch in tamdum with projects by the Institute for Gender Studies and Unisa Press (as per UNISA Programme Detail), [online], Available at http://daughtersarediamonds.blogspot.com [Accessed 10 August 2011]