In South Africa, 9 August is Women's Day and the month of August is National Women's Month. This is an opportunity to celebrate women's achievements and the important role that women of all races and religions have played and continue to play in South African society.
On 9 August 1956, more than 20 000 women from all walks of life united in a mass demonstration to the Union Buildings in Pretoria. They protested against the unjust pass laws enforced on women in South Africa.
The women were led by Lilian Ngoyi - a trade unionist and political activist, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn.
In remembrance of what South African women achieved on that day, 9 August has been declared as National Women's Day and is a public holiday in South Africa. Women's month is an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on women's achievements, as well as the problems they have faced in the struggle to be free and the important role they continue to play in society. Apart from their traditional roles as mothers, wives and caregivers, statistics show that women are making great progress in business, politics, academic and economic careers with more and more women reaching top positions.
Government is committed to empowering women and helping them to reach their highest potential. For example, the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network (SAWEN) is an initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry. It is a networking forum committed to advancing women in business.
Its main objective is to bring business women together to talk about the challenges they face. The network gathers and updates a database of women-owned businesses and services. It also helps with training and developing of business skills.
Make a difference
Women of South Africa, be proud of what you have achieved. Let the achievements of those who went before you inspire you to unlock your own strength and motivate you to make a difference in your family, your community or your country.
Go out and celebrate the women that you are. Go out and make a difference this Women's Month!
- Samona Murugan
Equal rights, equal opportunities, progress for all This year is the 99th anniversary of International Women's Day, which is marked on 8 March every year by many countries throughout the world. The theme for 2010 is "Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities, Progress for All. "The focus of International Women's Day ranges from showing respect, appreciation and love towards women, to celebrating women's economic, political and social achievements.