Südafrikanische Botschaft, Wien
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08. März 2022


Today, the 8th of March, marks International Women’s Day, where we pause to recognize and applaud the efforts of women  in making our world a better place to live in.

In doing so, I would like to draw attention to several prominent and creative South African women who have played a leading role in transforming their society and creating an inspirational future for younger generations. It is no secret that South African women are the bedrock of society and history is replete with the accomplishments of courageous and trail-blazing women such as Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Suzman, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Miriam Makeba and Thuli Madonsela, amongst others.

Political friends

Women have played a leading role in South Africa’s Liberation Struggle, from activists to joining the armed struggle. We celebrate the achievements of pioneering women such as Charlotte Maxeke who established the Women’s League to those who led the famous women’s march to the Union Building in 1956. Lead by Sophie du Bruyn, Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa, more than 20 000 women demanded Prime Minister JG Strijdom to revoke the much-hated pass laws.  The 1956 March would go down in history as a pivotal moment as women across the racial spectrum united to bring the Apartheid government to account.  A fine example of standing up for your beliefs and fighting for a cause you believe in!

Protecting the Public

A Human Rights lawyer by profession, Thuli Madonsela made her mark as South Africa’s first female Public Protector and a fierce-some warrior in the fight against corruption. Spurred by principles of justice, fairness, equity, transparency and accountability, Adv. Madonsela played an instrumental role in drafting South Africa’s constitution and devoted her tenure as Public Protector to rooting out corruption without fear or favour. Thuli Madonsela is indeed a role model young women can look up and aspire to be like. I recall her inspirational words ““As an African woman, I’ve learnt the importance of self-definition and living purposefully. It's vital that every girl determined as early as possible, who she is and what her contribution to humanity will be”

For the love of music

South African women have also made their mark in the field of arts and music. South Africa has given the world creative women such as Nadine Gordimer, Charlize Theron, Brenda Fassi and our dear Mama Africa, Ms Miriam Makeba, who used her angelic talent and love for music to draw attention to the injustices of Apartheid. She would go to become a UN Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in the fight to reduce hunger and improve the livelihoods of vulnerable people across the world. She will be forever remembered as South Africa’s nightingale with a heart of gold. A woman who used her God-given talent to uplift the lives of those in need!

The aforementioned women have no doubt left an inedible mark on South African society and serve as excellent role-models for future generations of young women. Inspired by their predecessors, young South African women are also proving their mettle by entering the domains that were once exclusively reserved for men, such as space science, cardiology, nuclear medicine and, in doing so, breaking the ceilings against artificial stereotypes. Bold, ambitious and determined, South African women are inspirational, passionate and driven to create a more gender-balanced world.

So today, we salute our sisters and wish them a Happy Women’s Day with a message from the late Miriam Makeba “Girls are the future mothers of our society, and it is important we focus on their well-being”.



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