Women’s achievements in the workplace were acknowledged by Susan Shabangu at the official launch of Women’s Month activities, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 30 July.
Shabangu, the minister in The Presidency responsible for women, said it was important that women’s achievements – such as being judges, directors or publishers in companies and those in male dominated environments like policing – should not be denied. “Next year, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Women’s March [which took place] in 1956. We are now hosting events in the build up to next year’s celebrations.”
Challenges women faced today would also be addressed, such as gender-based violence. “From the beginning of November, we will engage women in national dialogues, making sure we understand why we still have these challenges.
“We will try to identify the gaps and have to strengthen the arms with communities.”
The theme of Women’s Month this year is “Women united in moving South Africa forward”. Women’s Month runs every August, with Women’s Day an annual national public holiday on 9 August. The day marks the Women’s March against apartheid laws, specifically against the law requiring all black women to carry pass books, which took place on 9 August 1956.
Women from all parts of the country arrived in Pretoria and marched to the Union Buildings to deliver a petition to the prime minister, JG Strijdom. He was not there to meet the women, who left huge bundles of petitions. Estimates of the number of marchers ranged from 10 000 to 20 000.
Shabangu remarked that the women in the 1956 march came together despite their diversity and the apartheid laws. “They united to say ‘we need each other as women in this country. Our fight is the fight of all the women in South Africa.'”
The unity of women in diversity continued to be the anchor to take South Africa forward.
Guests at the launch included actress Sophie Ndaba and activist Sophie de Bruyn, who had taken part in the 1956 march.
“Minister Shabangu says we want to pay tribute to all women who played a significant role in this freedom that we enjoy today,” tweeted @GCISMedia, the government’s media account. “Minister Shabangu says all the Women’s Month events will take the nation down memory lane about the role women played.”
There would be weekly events as part of the Womens Month programme, it was reported.
Week one would celebrate women in fashion; week two would examine women in the film industry; week three would focus on the trafficking of women and children and the exploitation of women; week four would be concerned with women’s economic empowerment of women.