Topnews, South Africa

01. August 2021


Dear Friends

The month of August is dedicated to the women of South Africa and celebrates the achievements and contribution of women in creating a better South African society. In honour of the multi-dimensional and complex role women play, the South African government decided to hold a month-long celebration to acknowledge the strength and resilience of South African women

Women have played an instrumental role in the Liberation Struggle of our country and have helped lay the foundation for a democratic South Africa. Unlike the rest of the world, South Africa celebrates Women’s Day during the month of August to commemorate the historic 9th of August 1956 march, where more than 20 000 women from across the racial spectrum came together in solidarity of one cause – to protest against the extension of the Pass Laws to women. An abhorred vestige of the South African regime, Pass Laws were used to segregate black South Africans and control their movements in what was termed traditional white areas. It was also used to control migrant labour, urbanisation and served as yet another instrument to disenfranchise and demoralise black South Africans.

Women Leading the Way

On the 9th of August 1956, women of all colours and ages marched in unity to the seat of the South African regime, to demand the withdrawal of the hated legislation. They gathered outside the Union Buildings in one of the most powerful demonstrations of unity across the races. Led by four dynamic women from the Federation of South African Women (FSAW), namely, Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Amina Cachalia and Sophie Williams-De Bruyn, their strong voices rang out with strength and conviction, “Wathint Abafazi, Wathint Imbokodo”, “You strike the women, you strike the rock” signalling a turning point in the struggle against unjust Apartheid Laws. Women would go on to play critical roles in not only their own emancipation but that of the country itself.

South Africa is a proud nation, which has given birth to many powerful women who serve as inspiration for women and girls around the world. This year, we honour Charlotte Mannya- Maxeke, who was born at the turn of the century and is viewed as a pioneer social and political activist, who garnered a lot of firsts: the black woman to graduate with an international university degree, the first black woman to become a parole officer, an educator and translator.

Proudly South African Women

In the same spirit, we recall other bold and revolutionary women. While the world remembers Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as the wife of Nelson Mandela, South Africa reveres her as the Mother of the Struggle, a fearsome tigress who boldly took on the South African Apartheid Regime without flinching. Other strong women include Miriam Makeba, the famous songstress who used her melodious voice to draw attention to the injustice suffered by black South Africans, Dr Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma, who was elected the first woman Chair of the African Union Commission, amongst others.

South African women are excelling the world over and we are proud of their achievements. In line with the theme of this Women’s Day, “Generation Equality; Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future”, the South African government is committed to creating a conducive environment for women to flourish in all fields of society, from government to arts and science. Women are redefining their roles in society, and we are keen to support their aspirations and ensure that they are treated with respect, dignity and afforded the same rights, privileges and equality enjoyed by their male counterparts.

Tackling Gender-based Violence

While we acknowledge the great strides made in creating an equal society, we are also cognizant that much work lies ahead in ensuring that women feel safe and secure in our societies. Women are often subjected to indignity and harm under the guise of outdated patriarchal and cultural practices and the government has been working with community leaders in educating both men and women about women’s rights. Gender-based violence and femicide is a widespread problem in South Africa that requires urgent and collective action across the various spheres of government and society. President Ramaphosa has initiated a national plan aimed at eradicating gender-based violence over the next five years and we all need to play our part in eliminating this scourge which is a threat to building a safe and cohesive society. The South African Government is adamant that all girls and women deserve to live a life without fear.

So please join me in wishing all women a Happy Women’s Day and expressing our immense pride and joy in the accomplishments of our mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives. We acknowledge and value your contribution in making our world a better place to live in.

With best regards

Ambassador RS Molekane

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