Women’s Day in South Africa. How it Liberated Women?

South Africa’s Women’s Day is celebrated every year on the 9th of August. But it isn’t merely for the sake of it. It has a historic significance paying tribute to over those 20,000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on August 9, 1956, in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women – law or a system that aimed to exercise higher control over women, making them passive humans dependent on men. The protest then and the efforts made thereafter have helped bring positive changes in society, especially concerning women. Since then, South Africa has made significant progress in gender equality. The movement liberated women and brought them into the mainstream, thus allowing them to make vital contributions to the country’s progress!

Let’s explore more about National Women’s Day in South Africa.
What is Women’s Day in South Africa? We’ve already overviewed the historic importance of Women’s Day in South Africa. But what does National Women’s Day signify? Fundamentally, the day celebrates the strength and resilience of women and their contributions to South African society and country in its entirety – much like its global counterpart, International Women’s Day. Additionally, National Women’s Day forms part of South Africa’s Women’s Month providing equal opportunity to the country’s numerous women generations who struggled and took the courageous initiative to end the struggle and give women the respect they deserve. It is a significant day in South Africa which was first celebrated in 1995. Interestingly, the march was reenacted in 2006, on its 50th anniversary, in which many of the 1956 veterans also participated.
The Federation of South African Women
South Africa’s National Women’s Day is the result of years of effort, hard work, and vision to give justice to the country’s women. One significant effort or we can say the first noteworthy attempt in this direction was the Federation of South African Women launched in Johannesburg in 1954. It aimed to establish a broad-based women’s organisation. The group’s animators included Amina Cachalia, Lillian Ngoyi, Ray Simons and Helen Joseph. It aimed to bring South Africa’s women to secure complete equality of opportunity for every woman irrespective of their colour, creed or race. Additionally, the group intended to eliminate social, legal and economic disabilities and work for women’s and children’s protection.
What has Changed?
Revolutions don’t happen overnight, nor is their effect felt in a day or two. The difference and the progressive laws seen today are the outcomes of the consistent efforts made by generations of women and their brave and visionary initiatives. Today, South Africa has more women in high-ranking positions in government than ever. Additionally, access to education by young girls and women has seen an appreciable improvement. Of course, there’s a lot to be achieved. It is because inequality and unemployment amongst South African women persist. It is here that the socio-economic battle is still on.
The Battle Continues!
Despite every effort, female unemployment across the country remains higher than males. According to reports, in 2022, it stood between 32-34 percent, about a percent or two higher than the male counterparts. Family commitment has been a reason for not attending school! However, efforts continue to be made. Social shifts or changes take years and even generations. But the process has already begun. It is now the new generation’s responsibility to take their predecessor’s efforts and graduate to the next level through elements like technology and digital outreach. Fortunately, we now live in a world where we can be heard pretty quickly through the digital medium. It is up to society’s people how they leverage it to the fullest. FABTARY, being a women-led organization, sincerely hopes for an optimistic change and looks forward to helping the enablers maximize the digital medium’s impact towards building a better society.
Lungile Mbeke

Lungile Mbeke


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