March retraces 1956 women’s steps

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Multitudes of South Africans will today retrace the steps of about 20 000 women, who marched to the Union Buildings in Tshwane to protest against pass laws in 1956.

On 9 August 1956, women marched to the Union Buildings to protest against legislation aimed at tightening the apartheid government's control over the movement of black women in urban areas.

To commemorate Women’s Day, the Gauteng Provincial Government will join hundreds of South Africans for the 62nd anniversary of the historic 1956 Women’s March.

Premier David Makhura and MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Faith Mazibuko, will lead the two kilometre demonstration, retracing the steps of the 1956 march from the Women’s Living Heritage Monument at Lillian Ngoyi Square to the Union Buildings in Tshwane to protest the pass laws.

The provincial government said women across South Africa are faced with different challenges such as gender-based violence, inequality, unemployment and poverty.

“Although noticeable gains have been made in addressing the plight of women in the province, a lot still needs to be done in bridging the inequality gap between men and women and in ensuring that women become active agents of the economy,” Mazibuko said.

This year’s celebration will be held under the theme ‘100 Years of Albertina Sisulu, Woman of Fortitude: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward’ to coincide with the centenary birth of Mama Albertina Sisulu, who has been described by some as the mother of South Africa’s liberation.

“During this Women’s Month, Gauteng will join South Africa and the world in celebrating the centenary of Mama Albertina Sisulu, who was instrumental in South Africa receiving the democracy that we enjoy today,” the MEC said.

Main Women’s Day event 

President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the keynote address at the National Women’s Day main event on Thursday, 9 August 2018‚ which will be commemorated at Mbekweni, Paarl, in the Western Cape.

9 August is recognised as a National Public Holiday and the month of August as Women’s Month in South Africa to commemorate the 1956 march to the Union Buildings.

This year’s commemoration is of special significance as 2018 marks the centenaries of globally recognised struggle icons Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Sisulu. This year also marks the centenary of the formation of the Bantu Women’s League. 

As part of advancing the empowerment of women and pursuing the defeat of patriarchy, government regards Women’s Day as an opportunity to pay tribute to the many heroines of the women’s struggle and to also review progress made in addressing gender disparities. 

On Women’s Day, President Ramaphosa will have tea with elderly women including Mama Sophia De Bruyn – a veteran of the Women’s March of 1956 and Mama Magdeline Martins, who will receive a certificate honouring her own 100th birthday.

The President will then proceed to the formal programme of the day. –