9 August 2021
Every year, in August, our country marks Women’s Month. We also pay tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. A system meant to control women even further and reduce women to passive beings, at the mercy of men.
We will celebrate this year’s Women Month under the theme: “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future”. The concept of Generation Equality is a global campaign and links South Africa to global efforts to achieve gender equality by 2030.
Women’s Month is a tribute not only to the thousands of women who marched on that day in 1956, but also a tribute to the pioneers of the women’s movement in this country, dating back to 1913, when women like Charlotte Maxeke led the way in establishing the ANC Women’s League and encouraging women to engage in the struggle for freedom. Pioneers include Cissy, Jaynab and Amina Gool, who were amongst the leaders of the National Liberation League and the Non-European United Front of the 1930s.
The names of Ray Alexander Simons, Elizabeth Mafikeng and Elizabeth Abrahams will always be associated with the struggles of women. In the 1940s Amina Pahad and Gadijah Christopher, who were amongst the first volunteers to occupy the site of the 1946 Passive Resistance Campaign on Umbilo Road in Durban cannot go unnoticed.