"56 years of women united against poverty, inequality and unemployment"
South Africa commemorates Women’s Month in August as a tribute to the thousands of women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women.
This historic march was a turning point in the role of women in the struggle for freedom and society at large. Since that eventful day, women from all walks of life became equal partners in the struggle for a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.
The Government of South Africa declared August women’s month and 9 August is celebrated annually as Women’s Day. The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD), being the custodian of women empowerment and gender equality, leads and coordinates women’s month activities.
Government has made significant progress in empowering women in the political, public and educational spheres, but the marginalisation of poor women severely compromises progress.
Since the onset of democracy, South Africa has taken bold steps to institutionalise gender equality and women empowerment.
- Two decades on, there is an increase in numbers of women in Parliament and government.
- The statutory and policy architecture for gender equality in the country is comprehensive and multidimensional.
- Progressive legislation includes:
- Government is in the process of finalising the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill.
Government prioritises uplifting women’s economic and rural development.
- The Agricultural Women Empowerment Programme includes the Agricultural Development Finance Programme. A total number of 20 078 women benefitted from the cooperative initiatives as community projects.
- The Micro Agricultural Finance Institution of South Africa Programme benefitted 7 229 people to an amount of R65 million. Of these, 744 were women. A total of R22 222 333 was allocated for various projects under women’s leadership.
- Land Care projects are responsible for empowering communities targeting women and children. A total number of 634 518 community members benefitted from these programmes, of whom 411 167 were women.
- Food security measures included a total number of 43 200 community projects and 162 food production packs. A total number of 157 694 community members benefitted from these projects across the country. Of these, 115 929 were women.
- The Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme benefitted a total of 165 679 community members. Of these, 28 709 were women.
All South Africans and communities must partner with government and actively fight all forms of violence against women and children.
- Speak out against woman and child abuse. Encourage silent female victims to talk about abuse and ensure that they get help.
- Men are critical partners in the fight against the abuse of women and children.
- Families must stick together to create a safe environment for women and children.
- Thuthuzela care centres give protection to rape victims have access to all services such as the police, counselling, doctors, court preparation and prosecution.
The Department of Health is campaigning for breastfeeding during Women's Month.
Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi supports exclusive breastfeeding for all infants from birth to six months. Breast milk is regarded as the best feeding option for all babies, irrespective of the mother's HIV status. The posters below explain all a mother needs to know about breastfeeding and its the benefits.