We celebrate National Women’s Day on August 9, 2022, every year in South Africa. This holiday falls on a weekday and we continue to fight to get closer to freedom and equality. Women have experienced oppression for a long time, but every step we take gets us closer to freedom.
NATIONWIDE WOMEN’S DAY HISTORY
The Union Buildings of Pretoria were the scene of a staged march on August 9, 1956. Women of all races attended the march to protest the amendments to the Urban Areas Act of 1950. In the apartheid era, all South Africans defined as “black” were required to carry an internal passport which maintained segregation, controlled urbanization, and managed migrant labour.
Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, and Sophia Williams led the protest. There were 14,000 petitions left at the prime minister’s office door by the women. A silent protest of thirty minutes was held in front of the prime minister’s door with 100,000 signatures left. To ensure their voices were heard after the silent protest, songs were sung to honour the event. It is entitled “Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo” which translates to “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.”
We have National Women’s Day as a result of this peaceful protest.
It wasn’t until 1995 that the day was declared a holiday. In addition to domestic violence and sexual harassment, unequal pay, girls’ inability to attend school, and no-help parenting, the day aims to highlight the issues African women faced back then and still face today. As of 1994, women had just 2.7% representation in Parliament. There were 27.7% women in the national assembly. As a result of the creation of this public holiday, the numbers nearly doubled, with women now making up almost half of the government.
What should we do every year to celebrate Women’s Month?
Learn about the history of women’s rights.
In 2022, what will be the theme of International Women’s Day?
For this year’s International Women’s Day, the theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.“
The #BreakTheBias hashtag represents this year’s campaign and challenges us to create a world that is inclusive, equitable, and free from bias and discrimination for women.
A new theme for Women’s Month 2022 was launched by Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane: “Women’s Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment: Building Back Better for Women’s Resilience!”
Be aware of issues women still face today.
There are still areas where women face obstacles because of their gender, despite progress. In addition to earning less than men, women are underrepresented in leadership, STEM careers, and politics and carry most of the household and childcare responsibilities. There is also domestic violence, sexual harassment, trafficking, and rape culture. The pink tax, hiring bias, and harmful beauty standards round out the list. Should we continue?
Women’s Day quotes in South Africa
The quote, “You strike a woman, you strike a rock,” from 09 August 1956 March has continued to inspire and strengthen women from all walks of life. Here are a few other women’s days South Africa quotes from the women who marched that can still inspire us.
“If you are to free yourselves you must break the chains of oppression yourselves. Only then can we express our dignity, only when we have liberated ourselves can we cooperate with other groups. Any acceptance of humiliation, indignity or insult is acceptance of inferiority.” – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
“Regardless of how many years we have spent in this life, we must get up and shout.” – Professor Fatima Meer
“I stand for simple justice, equal opportunity and human rights. The indispensable elements in a democratic society – and well worth fighting for.” – Helen Suzman
“Women are the people who are going to relieve us from all this oppression and depression. The rent boycott that is happening in Soweto now [in 1956] is alive because of the women. It is the women who are on the street committees educating the people to stand up and protect each other.” – Albertina Sisulu