Saluting the Women of South Africa
The period leading up to 1956 represents a distinctive era in the liberation struggle. Like many periods before, the fight against women’s oppression has manifested itself in varying forms, each germane to different conditions but collectively based on a common denominator of women’s triple oppression in South Africa.
In celebrating the heroic sacrifices of women in our society we remember the scholarly work by one of the foremost women activists Alexandra Kollontai where she says “The followers of historical materialism reject the existence of a special woman separate from the general social question of the day. Special economic factors were behind the subordination of women, natural qualities have been a secondary factor in this process”.
The position of women in South Africa is best defined by the understanding that black women continue to be chained by the triple yoke of oppression, in terms of gender, colour and class. On this day, the ANC commemorates and celebrates the historic struggles of women.
In almost 30 years of our democracy, difficult questions arise, and given wider inequalities, abject poverty and other social ills, we need to ask, how far have we travelled since 1994 to advance the dreams of Charlotte Maxeke, Sarah Baartman, Dora Tamana, Lillian Ngoyi, Hellen Joseph, Sophie De Bruyn, Ruth Sekgomotsi Mompati, Mittah Seperepere, Ellen Khuzwayo, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Gertrude Shope and other women who dared to challenge the patriarchal system in South Africa. We also remember a generation of younger freedom fighters such as Makhosi Nyoka Nokuthula Simelane, Tracy Malatji and Bavelile Hlongwa. These are generations on whose shoulders we ought to stand.
On this day, the ANC applauds the significant strides made in improving the conditions of women in society, both in terms of descriptive and substantive representation in politics, economy and governance. Progressive legislation is in place, and policies aimed at changing the status of women as hewers of wood and drawers of water are in place. These have been achieved through ensuring social protection, access to water, electricity and affordable healthcare, employment equity and broad-based black economic empowerment at whose centre reside women, irrespective of colour and social standing. Early childhood development centres, community health centres, schools and other amenities within reach by women, and free pre-and post-natal care are some of the achievements society can 2
pride itself on. The employment equity legislation has seen representation of women in the workplace, academia, and private sector, gradually closing the inequality gap.
On this day, the ANC salutes and joins all South Africans in recognizing the role of women in our country and calls upon women to exercise their individual and collective agency and to take up the space to fight patriarchy wherever it presents itself.
We particularly call upon progressive women across all walks of life to unite to fight the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide and to call out all men who perpetuate these acts regardless of their social standing.
Happy Women’s Day. Wathinta abafazi, wathinta imbokodo, uzokufa!
ISSUED BY THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
ANC NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON
076 891 5420
ACTING NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
066 056 0911