Women’s Day: why we celebrate it
Fashion Aug 08, 2019
Women’s Day: why we celebrate it.
When I was still in school, my mother said to me on one Women’s Day eve, “What a cheek! Every day should be women’s day! Men have it too good as it is!” Of course, Women’s Day isn’t simply a gesture of goodwill to women for… you know… the often thankless task of being a woman.
Especially for those from the poorer communities. But all women are expected to be master jugglers: juggling careers, caring for the kids, attending those soccer matches, managing the household (or at least that’s how it was – a lot more enlightened men are joining the party… by leaving the party, as ironic as that sounds… we think you know what we mean).
But Women’s Day isn’t some throw-away gesture. It’s a special remembrance for the courage of the 20 000 women who took part in a march against the Apartheid government.
It was in 1956, when pass laws were proposed for black South Africans, effectively making them foreigners in their own country. Passes would be required to determine where you could and could not be if you were a black citizen. It was part of segregation and keeping the majority from the nice, suburban areas (unless they were there to be house cleaners, nannies, gardeners, or whatever other menial labour they were required to perform.
It was degrading and of course a crime against humanity.
So, 20 000 women of ALL races joined together and, in unison, marched onto the Union Buildings with over 14 000 petitions left at the office doors of prime minister J.G Strijdom. For 30 minutes, and under threat at any moment from repressive police forces, they stood silent. And then they broke out into protest songs. There was even a unique song written for the occasion, which was called Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!
It was a very powerful song and resonates even today. It translates to “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock”.
After the dawn of democracy, the event has been immortalised on this special day, and it has more significance than ever. Especially considering the numerous issues afflicting our society for women today, and the continued strides we need to take to make women truly – not just theoretically – equal.
In many ways, this is starting to be achieved. Women executives on company boards, even female CEOs. Close to the majority of government is represented by women. And whereas at the time the march took place, there were few professions a woman was ‘allowed’ to work in, today we have female judges, doctors, policemen, psychologists, computer programmers, and even professional e-sports gamers! Not forgetting lawyers, accountants, and scientists.
So much has been achieved, even if there is a lot more still to do.
But we are getting there.
We must just never stop marching for full equality and the removal of fear of gender-based violence. We must use Women’s Day as our reminder that we have further still to go.
This Women’s Day, why not treat the special woman in your life to a lovely lunch at our mall, perhaps enjoying a movie at the Cinema Nouveau, and coffee afterwards… where you can discuss gender politics and how we can become truly become the country 20 000 brave women marched for?