This week: a champion of women's rights, a South African striker, and a Communist rebel

ACTIVIST Bernice Sandler, who has died aged 90, was a champion of women's rights who changed the campus culture in America and helped implement Title IX, a bill passed in 1972 that banned sex discrimination in government-funded education centres, including the sporting field, where boys and girls sports are now required to have equal opportunities to play.

Sandler’s work began in 1969 when she graduated with a doctorate degree but could not find a job. One hiring researcher said women too often stayed home with sick children; others had quotas for women (“Your qualifications are excellent, but we already have a woman in this department,” Sandler recalled reading a rejection letter); some did not hire any women or refused to hire married women.

It was not illegal to discriminate against women. But there had been an amendment to a President Lyndon B. Johnson executive order that banned this in federally-contracted organizations which led to the idea of Title IX.

Prior to the passing of Title IX, only one in 27 high school girls — less than four percent — played sports but there has been a massive 990 percent growth in girls high school athletics since then. This has helped lead to an increase in women’s participation in college, professional leagues and the Olympics.

THE footballer Phil Masinga, who has died aged 49, was a South African who played for Leeds as a striker for two years after joining from Mamelodi Sundowns in 1994.

Masinga was signed for Leeds by then manager Howard Wilkinson at the same time as his compatriot Lucas Radebe and went on to score five times in 31 league appearances for the Elland Road side.

He left for Swiss team St Gallen in 2006 and went on to play for Salernitana and Bari in Italy.

He won 58 caps for South Africa, helping them win the African Nations Cup on home soil in 1996.

He also scored the decisive goal against Congo which sealed South Africa's qualification for the 1998 World Cup, the first time they had qualified for the tournament.

South African Football Association president Dr Danny Jordaan said a giant of South African Football had been lost. "Phil was a loyal servant of the game, on and off the field of play. His goal against Congo which took us to our first World Cup in France in 1998 is still the most celebrated goal in the country to date."

THE Russian Communist politician Anatoly Lukyanov, who has died aged 88, was imprisoned for his role in a coup attempt that precipitated the Soviet Union's collapse.

During the 1980s, Lukyanov, a senior Communist Party official, was a top associate of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. A lawyer by training, he had known Mr Gorbachev since they were university students.

Lukyanov moved into the speaker's seat in parliament, presiding over the intense political infighting that marked the waning years of the Soviet Union.

He also played a key role in revamping the country's laws amid Gorbachev's political and economic reforms, but eventually grew critical of Gorbachev's policies and openly spoke against them.

Lukyanov had not formally joined a group of hard-line Communist officials that staged a botched coup to topple Gorbachev in August 1991, but still was charged with complicity.

He was arrested along with others and spent more than a year in prison until he was released.

During 1993-2003, Lukyanov served in the Russian parliament after winning elections on the Communist Party ticket.