– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase
August is acknowledged as Women’s Month; more importantly, the 9th of August is regarded as National Women’s Day. The purpose of Women’s Day is to recognise the vigour and resilience of the women that contributed to the freedoms that women experience today. Women’s Day is an integral part of South African history. It is a tribute to the generations of women who fought for gender equality and the right to vote. Thousands of women marched to the Union Buildings on this day in 1956 in protest of the extension of Pass Laws to women under the apartheid regime. It is a set of measures designed to cause women to become passive members of society and at the mercy of the government perpetuating misogynistic ideals to further control them.
This year, the theme for Women’s Month is “Women’s Socio-Economic Rights Empowerment: Building Back Better for Women’s Improved Resilience”. According to the South African Government, South Africa is participating in the global Generation Equality campaign, which aims to achieve gender equality by 2030. This Women’s Month will also pay tribute to the pioneers of the women empowerment movement dating back to the early 1900s, such as Charlette Maxeke, who encouraged women’s participation in the struggle for freedom by being a leading founding member of the ANC Women’s League.
Despite many of the challenges South African women face, namely gender-based violence, femicide, sexual harassment, prejudice, unequal pay and unequal access to education for young girls. Women’s Day in South Africa brings awareness to these issues. Women bear the brunt of many responsibilities and commitments in society and juggling these can be considered overwhelming. Somehow women can carry these responsibilities with such grace and resilience. This is why days such as Women’s Day are so important to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women in all aspects of life. The respective contribution made to society cannot go unnoticed. The journey of a progressive community is still well on its way; however, these days of recognition serve as a pivotal reminder of the path once marched. Thus, injecting a new era of inspiration for other women of all ages to stand with confidence in all aspects of their lives.