Every year on the 9th of August we celebrate National Women’s Day in South Africa. The question is, how many of us out there actually realize why we celebrate this day? Maybe because there are already so many Public Holiday’s in South Africa that we can’t keep up. National Women’s Day commemorates the 1956 march to the Union Building in Pretoria in which approximately 20 000 women participated to petition against the country’s pass laws that required South Africans defined as “black” under the Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport. (Knows as a pass that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanization and manage migrant labor during the apartheid era.)
I can only try to imagine the atmosphere among these women as they laid bundles of petitions containing more than 100 000 signature at the office doors of Prime Minister J G Strijdom. Bravery is another word that comes to mind. Women that had finally stood up for their rights in South Africa and the rights for all other women in South Africa.
They stood silently for 30 minutes after laying the petitions down before they started singing a protest song that was composed in honor of the occasion, directly translating to: “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.
The very first National Women’s Day was celebrated on the 9th of August 1994 and in 2006 a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary with many of the 1956 participants.
I was still being brought up very “old fashioned” in a sense. A women’s work was to look after the children, clean the house, take care of her husband and clean the house. It was only when I had to enter the “adult world” where I realized that this was definitely not going to work so well. With salaries nowadays, husbands can’t afford to carry the load on their own anymore. Times have changed and everything has become way too expensive.
We were once behind the scenes and now we have become our husband’s equals. We are strong and independent. We, women from all over the world, can make our voices heard and we too can make a difference.
So let us not forget the importance of this day and what it stands for.
I give praise for these women’s bravery and what they did for all individuals out there.