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South Africans commemorate Women's Day

by Bathandwa Mbola
on 09 Aug 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Women and men both young and old from all walks of life in the country took to the streets to commemorate the historic anti-pass march to the Union Buildings, exactly 52 years ago.

The march, which was held on 9 August 1956, was part of the broader defiance campaign against the pass laws that started with the 1913 march in Welkom and the 1919 march in Bloemfontein.

To honour the women that were part of the protest on that day, in 1994 government declared the day a public holiday.

In celebration of the day, in Pretoria thousands of women and men have marched to the Union Buildings with the aim to build on the memorial event.

Live music, dance, theatre, film and street performances will highlight the contribution local women make to the country's arts and entertainment sector at a festival in Newtown in Johannesburg.

The MTN SA Foundation and the South African State Theatre have joined hands on an exceptional project aimed at uplifting and showcasing women in art and nurturing their role as holders of cultural identity.

About 500 women will attend a luncheon and a phenomenal stage performance at the Opera venue at the Theatre and together celebrate the huge contribution women have made to the arts as performers, musicians, painters, sculptors, crafters, poets, dancers, photographers and fashion designers, to mention just a few.

"With this exciting initiative our objective is to expose and present an opportunity for female artists to develop within their chosen fields of expertise and creativity.

"This partnership has the ideal platform to discover new talent that will enable artists to empower themselves" said General Manager of the MTN SA Foundation Eunice Maluleke.

In Cape Town in an attempt to make another historical statement similar to the 1956 march, women working in essential services and law enforcement agencies took to the streets of Mitchells Plain.

Organisers say it is the first time that women from all these services came together in a march, but this time it was to pay tribute to those women who made it possible for them to do jobs formerly reserved for men.

Other events include an art exhibition at the Iziko Slave Lodge which will highlight the role of women in the struggle against apartheid.

In Durban, young and old braved the wet and chilly whether to celebrate this day but the province's main event were Premier Sibusiso Ndebele was scheduled to address the crowds was cancelled due to a natural disaster.

"A natural disaster, in the form of very strong winds during the early hours of this morning which resulted in the marquee in which the event was to be held being blown down," said the Premier's Office.

A new date for this event will be announced.

The Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga women also joined the rest of the country to celebrate National Women's Day.

In other parts of the country speakers noted the silence on the plight of women in other countries and called on those governments to end gender discrimination.

In South Africa progress has been made in the emancipation and empowerment of women in South Africa.

To date women have access to social grants, housing, education, health care and free basic services. More than ever before, women enjoy rights and privileges in accordance with our constitution.

South Africa has also through its policies and programmes, managed to empower women across all sections of society.

Interventions are underway to accelerate progress towards gender equality both in the public and private sectors and in society as a whole.

Government has made a conscious decision to integrate women's emancipation, empowerment, equality and poverty eradication in such initiatives as the Expanded Public Works Programme, which has provided 47 percent of women with job opportunities since 2004 to April 2008. - BuaNews

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