International Women’s Day is celebrated today, but do not fear South African Women you have much to celebrate and be proud of. Not only do you not follow what the world is doing, just because everyone is doing it! But you get to celebrate Women’s day when there is much to celebrate, and a reason to wait until the 9th August for this!
While the world celebrates Women’s day on 8 March every year for Achievements, South African woman get to celebrate on the 9th August since 1995 and constitutes an especially noteworthy moment in women’s history celebrating women’s achievements and the important role that women of all races and religions have played and continue to play in South Africa.
Why only in August are you wondering and not in March.
It all began in 1912 in the Free State where women managed to collect five thousand signatures in protest against women passes. A group of woman presented their case to the Minister of Native Affairs, H. Burton, and he replied that in the future “he would take action to eliminate pass regulations.” A year later no changes were made and women started getting frustrated with Government by ignoring their requests.
Their frustrations grew and the struggle for freedom and women’s rights were real, finally 2 Remarkable South African women took it further and made history in Pretoria in 1956, without violence but strength, determination and unity.
Lillian Ngoyi believed that women had to stand together in South Africa to secure a better future for woman and their daughters. She questioned her audience as to why they “have heard of men shaking in their trousers, but who ever heard of a woman shaking in her skirt?”
And on that Thursday morning the 9th August in 1956, more than 50,000 women of all races and walks of life, marched together holding thousands of signed petitions being led by Lillian and Helen and other influential leaders who knocked on Prime Minister J.G. Strijdom’s door to give him the petitions. Outside they stood silently for 30 minutes, many with their children on their backs and sang a specially composed song, Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ Imbokokodo (now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock)
She was known as one of the strongest, black women in politics of South Africa. Another influential woman was Helen Joseph, a white anti-apartheid activist, though a white woman, believed it was intolerant to watch the suffrage and separation of South Africa due to pass laws. They were not only leaders that were visible in the struggle but they ran risks for their life and changed the face of history for South African women today.
International Women’s Day was first celebrated in Europe in March 1911. But only since 1917, has the 8th March been declared International Women’s Day.
On that day in 1911, over 1 000 000 woman marched in a series of rallies demanding the right to vote, to hold public office and the end of job discrimination in Europe.
International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history.
It is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.
In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war, and during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for “liberty, equality, fraternity” marched on Versailles to demand women’s suffrage.’
Today Woman has made a significant contribution to Society with a great percentage of monthly active groups created on Facebook, 45% of pages on the Social network are owned by women. Fundraisers for protection against women and children are getting recognition and many women owned business are growing and empowering other women to take a stand and be seen.
So take a moment to celebrate being a Woman wherever you are! Happy International Women’s Day!