National Women's Day is an annual public holiday in South Africa on 9 August. August is dedicated to women; highlighting their courage, strength, resilience and contributions to the social, political and economic pillars of our country.
The holiday commemorates the national march of 20 000 women on 9 August 1956 to petition against legislation that required African persons to carry the 'pass'. The 'pass' was an identification document which restricted a black South African's freedom of movement under apartheid.
The women then sang a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion: Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! (You strike the women, you strike the rock.). The phrase has come to represent women's courage and strength in South Africa.
The South African Government, while focused on the COVID-19 pandemic at the moment, has also turned its attention to the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) pandemic.
Since the country entered Lockdown Level 3, there has been a surge in gender-based violence and femicide. Women and girls are being abused, assaulted and murdered in our country every day. This onslaught manifests in homes, workplaces or neighbourhoods regardless of the class, race or geographic location of perpetrators, survivors or victims.
The clear message on the streets of the nation is the call for an end to all forms of violence against women and children; an end to impunity for perpetrators of GBVF; for public and private spaces to be made safe for women and children; and for adequate resourcing of the psychosocial and other needs of survivors, provided by both government and through civil society.
This fight is bigger than government and communities are required to help curb this epidemic. Communities can play a big role in curbing this epidemic by reporting incidents of abuse to local organisations, and the South African Police Service (SAPS). The Crime Stop Hotline on 08600 10111 or send an anonymous SMS to Crime Line at 32211, or to call the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre on 0800 428 428.
Communities must come together against GBVF and expose perpetrators and not turn a blind eye to abuse. A call is made on men to join the fight by starting in our communities, educating brothers, cousins, neighbours and colleagues about dignity and respect for women, children and human life.
St Peter’s always celebrates, compliments and honours all women and girls! Happy Women’s Month.