Pretoria – South African women who have gathered for the National Women’s Day celebrations say the country has made progress in creating a conducive environment for women to prosper and contribute to their community’s development.
There is an air of excitement at the Union Buildings where hundreds of women from across the country are gathering to celebrate the women who, in 1956, marched against discriminatory pass laws that restricted the movement of black people under the apartheid regime.
Today’s National Women’s Day is also the 60th anniversary of that women’s march.
Nancy Mabunda, 46, travelled all the way from Ndambi in Giyani, Limpopo, to Pretoria to take part in the Women’s Day celebrations.
She said a lot has been done to ensure women are exposed to the same opportunities as men, especially in the workplace.
“Right now if you are a woman and you apply for a job, you are able to get it, unlike before when men used to be first preference for many jobs. I think we are getting there. We will soon be equal,” said Mabunda.
Most women are aware of the changes that have taken place in South Africa and where it is today but others are still in the dark, and that, said Mabunda, closes a lot of doors for them.
“I encourage women to open their eyes and see what other women are doing to change their lives,” she said.
Isabel Gama from Nelspruit was also at the Union Buildings early this morning. She told SAnews that the day meant standing up for what she believes in and supporting other women and all humanity. She also spoke on the issue of equality.
“I believe that we are progressing well as a country – progress is not a destination but a journey. We will always make progress and do things better.”
She said women need to support each other – that was how they could honour those who marched against discriminatory pass laws.
Gama was accompanied by Carol Sanderson, who is also a businesswoman from Nelspruit. Sanderson pointed out that all races took part in the women’s march on this day 60 years ago.
She said women need to stand together again to take the country further.
“Their voices were heard. Our voices [must] take it forward and ensure that we make this world a better place for generations to come.”
She said women’s voices were being heard now more than ever before. Women had a Constitution that valued them, there were many women entrepreneurs and women in high-powered positions and in the higher LSMs.
Later today President Jacob Zuma will deliver the national message at the National Women’s Day celebrations.
In addition to the formal programme, there will also be an expo, food market and International Solidarity Expo that celebrates women who are fighting for gender equality in the international arena, led by the United Nations.
The cultural progamme in the afternoon will include a line-up of female performers from various genres such as gospel, house and Kwaito. The performers include, Deborah Fraser, Nothembi Mkhwembane and Busiswa.