Pretoria: As part of Women’s Day celebrations, the Gauteng province paid tribute to the struggle heroines who led the 1956 women’s march to the Union Buildings.
The historic march was coordinated by the Federation of South African Women, and was led by four women; Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophie Williams-De Bruyn. The women took the struggle for freedom and democracy to a higher level protesting against the then pass laws.
Today marked the 57th Anniversary of the 1956 Women’s Anti-pass march.
They delivered petitions to the then Prime Minister JG Strydom’s office in the Union Buildings, indicating the anger of women at having their freedom of movement restricted by the hated official passes.
The major campaign was masterminded in Johannesburg from 1954 to1956, culminating in the march in 1956 of nearly 20 000 women on the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Speaking on behalf of the Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane at the Gauteng Women’s Day celebration event held at the Union Buildings in Tshwane, Gauteng Acting Premier Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said it is imperative to acknowledge the contributions made by the 1956 women.
“We want to pay tribute to these struggle heroines. Today we also pay tribute to women from all sectors our society for the roles they have played over the years in the struggle to advance freedom and women’s socio-economic emancipation.
“As we celebrate the milestone and achievements we have made, we acknowledge that we still have a long way to go to achieve the full emancipation of women from the hardships they have experienced because of their race, gender and social class,” Mayathula-Khoza said.
Mayathula-Khoza said as the provincial government, they are aware that gender-based violence, poverty and joblessness remain the three biggest challenges facing women today.
“Sexual violence against women and rape remains a huge challenge in our society. Poverty and poor living conditions have added to women’s vulnerability to violence and increase risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections,” she said.
The acting premier said as the provincial government, they are hopeful that the re-instatement of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit within the South African Police Service will make a huge difference.
“The eradication of violence against women and children is a central pillar of our social crime prevention efforts in the province.
“We invite men and women to engage on this matter so that we can find sustainable societal crime intervention efforts in the province,” she said.
Touching on women empowerment, Mayathula-Khoza said she is proud that the provincial government has 50 percent women representation.
“We pride ourselves in the fact that we employ over 92 000 women, representing more than 68. 5 percent of the Gauteng province workforce,” she said.
Having said that, she said the provincial government will continue to engage every woman in the province to air their views on the future of the province.
“Women must continue to take charge of their destiny in every facet of their lives in order to own and cherish success which awaits them in future,” she said.
Prior to the start of the Women’s Day celebration, women braved the rain and marched from the City of Tshwane City Hall to the Union Buildings in recognition of the 1956 women’s march.
The event was attended by among others, the Executive Mayor of Tshwane Kgosientso Ramokgopa, Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture Lebogang Maile and other senior government officials.
Young and old who attended the event were entertained by local artists. –