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Women’s Day is celebrated annually in South Africa on 9 August as a reminder of the strides women of the country have done to emancipate their liberations.  This is commemoration of the 1956 March of approximately 20 000 women who marched to the Union buildings to petition against pass laws of the country. 

The historic march was a turning point in the role of women in the struggle for freedom and society at large. Since that eventful day, women from all walks of life claimed their space as equal partners in the struggle for a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

Women’s month is a tribute not only to the thousands of women who marched on that day in 1956, but also a tribute to the pioneers of the women’s movement in this country, dating back to 1913, when women like Charlotte Maxeke led the way in establishing the ANC Women’s League and also women who formed the Black Sash and who were the first to protest against the disenfranchisement of the Coloured voters during the 1950s. 

As government we salute selflessness and bravery displayed by this generation and we continue to draw strength from their act. However, in our times we, confronted yet by another monster, gender-based violence.

Despite our record of achievements in addressing women related issues, women still face greater vulnerabilities in society. Gender based violence continues as cancer that has left no society or sector untouched. This heinous social ill is seen in media and social media reports almost daily. Posing a question if women will continuously live in fear of being victimised and killed by virtue of their gender?

Women are not only faced with gender-based violence and femicide, but still have to overcome the challenges of safety and security, poverty and access to economic opportunities and the contestation of their rights in a society where patriarchy and chauvinism is still prevalent. 

During the past two years the country and the world was shocked at the gruesome and horror killings of women and children by men who were supposed to protect, care and support them.  Today we reflect on the following victims of Gender based violence:

Tshegofatse Pule and her unborn baby; Uyinene Mrwetyana; Altecia Kortje and her daughter Raynecia; Naledi Phangidawo; Lindelwa Peni; Leighandre Jegels; Nomfazi Gabada; Meghan Cremer. These are just a few cases that have dominated the headlines in the past couple of months. 

Let us use this day to reflect on the type of South Africa we want for our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. South Africa we can make a change.

Happy women’s day to all South African women. 

Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo

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