Ms Joemat-Pettersson was active member of the Azanian Students Organisation between 1985 and 1986.
She Taught at Pescodia Secondary School in 1987, at Homevale Senior Secondary School between 1992 and 1993 and a Tutor in History during the period 1989 to 1991; Tutor in English for the National Education Co-ordinating Committee and Tutor in English for the Education Development Trust during the period 1992 to 1993. She was also a Research Assistant to the Head of English Department at the University of Western Cape in 1990 and member of the National People's Education Panelist in 1992.
Ms Joemat-Pettersson was a National Representative of SADTU for Northern Cape; and member of South African Democratic Teacher's Union (SADTU) in 1992. She was also a member of the Union of Democratic University Staff Association and a member of Northern Cape Regional Delegate to the ANC National Education and Cultural Desk during the period 1992 to 1993. She was a Lecturer in the English Department at University of the Free State between 1993 and 1994.
She became a member of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature in 1994; member of the Executive Council for Education, Arts and Culture in the Northern Cape between 1994 and 1999 and Board member for the Helen Joseph Women Development Centre from 1997 to 2001.
She became Chairperson of the ANC Women's League in the Northern Cape in 1998; member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) Central Committee in 1998; member of the ANC Women's League National Executive Committee from 1998 to 2003; Chairperson of the SACP in the Northern Cape in 1998 and member of the Northern Cape Provincial HIV and AIDS Council in 2000 and Treasurer of the ANC Provincial Executive Committee for the Northern Cape in 2003
Ms Joemat-Pettersson was a Trustee of Desmond Tutu Diversity Trust in 2001; Chairperson of the Birch Education Trust from 2001 to 2004; member of the Executive Council for Education in 2003; Chairperson of the Northern Cape Province Rehabilitation Trust in 2004 and Chairperson of the ANC Financial Committee (FINCOM).
She served as Chairperson of the Land Reform Co-ordinating Committee; Chairperson of the ANC Economic Transformation Committee (ETC); Trustee of Mosiuoa Lekota Children's Fund in 2005 and Acting President of the Association of University English Teachers in South Africa.