Our national treasure: the women of South Africa
Women’s Day. A woman’s day.
Women’s Day: she wakes before dawn – to ready her children’s lunch for the school day. She breaks sweat in toil – to put food on her family’s table. She navigates the corporate boardroom battlefield – to prove that it doesn’t have to be a man’s world.
She burns the candlelight at both ends, studying to pass Matric with a university exemption – to empower her way out of poverty. She spends more hours than her colleagues seeing to the wounded in Casualty – to be the best doctor she can be.
She stands in the hot sun selling fruit – to pay for her daughter’s future.
She never gives up, no matter how long the hours, how hard the day. She does it for herself, for her loved ones, and for the betterment of the country.
She’s you. She’s me. She’s the one nurturing our children to become our future leaders. She’s building our society. She’s the reason we celebrate Women’s Day.
What we owe.
9 August 1956 is the day 20 000 women of all races, creeds, religions, and beliefs marched to the Union Buildings. Their cause? Protest action against the hated Pass Laws. An unjust system of laws which made black South Africansforeigners in their own country – forced to carry the equivalent of a passport and to have justifications for being wherever they were. That’s why 9 August is Women’s Day.
By marching, these brave women highlighted this injustice to the world. Which helped to isolate the Apartheid State on the international stage.
So we commemorate them, but not just for this. For being an essential part of the Struggle, too. Many of the Struggle’s greatest heroes were women like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, Fatima Meer, Helen Suzman, and others.
They were fighting on the frontlines, quietly providing powerful emotional support, standing up to the institutions they were members of, or building up legal practices where they were determined to defend the legal rights of political detainees.
They’re the reason we celebrate Women’s Day.
Everyday, women of South Africa walk through our airports. Their busy lives in transit all over the country and the world. They pass by, and we do our best to provide the security to keep them safe. And the services and offerings to keep them happy. We are just doing our part to help make the lives of women easier. We honour them on Women’s Day.
And tomorrow is Women’s Day. A day we honour those stood for freedom. And we honour those today who use their freedom to build a better country for us all. To all the women of this country, we wish you a happy Women’s Day.