Cape Town-born Gertrude has a PhD from the London School of Economics, and was active in anti-apartheid struggles, focusing on women’s and national liberation. She participated in establishing various women’s structures (1980s-1990s) and Women’s National Coalition, which advocated for a gender-sensitive constitution. She initiated WEAVE, a black feminist writing collective resulting in self-published anthologies.
Post-1994 she had political deployments including Member of Parliament, academic positions include Wynona Lipman Chair, Rutgers, USA and Transitional Justice Professor (University of Rwanda). Currently she is honorary professor (CAS, UCT). She is part of Aboriginal/Xarra Restorative Justice Forum (UCT) and UCT pilot Khoekhoegowab language courses. Her Prison Memoirs are currently being published. Women in First Nations rock art is her current research focus. The oppression of women and marginalised groups has been central in her writing, both fiction and nonfiction.