ANC Caucus statement on Women's Day

8 August 2005

South Africans tomorrow will celebrate the National Women's Day in remembrance and salutation of the courageous struggle waged by women 49 years ago against apartheid regime's diabolic pass laws.

On 9 August 1956 about 20 000 women of all races and creed marched to the Union Buildings in a firm opposition to the wanton extension of pass laws to African women. This defining and brave action was just a microcosm of women's clarion struggles against the notorious evil policies perpetrated by the minority regime. It is indeed this fearlessness and selflessness that immensely contributed to the liberation of this country and towards a free people that we are today.

Since then, women have continued to play considerable and progressive roles in both the public and private sector. Women today make up about 49 percent of the national legislature while in cabinet they constitute about 41 percent. For the first time in history, our country has a woman as Deputy President. Recently, the National General Council of the ANC took a decision that candidature for December local elections be contested on 50-50 gender basis. In the legislative sphere, the last decade of democracy has seen the enactment of women-friendly acts such as the Maintenance Act and Choice on the Termination of Pregnancy Act, among others.

Despite these achievements, the process towards total emancipation of women is never complete. Women are mostly the bearers of the brunt of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, HIV-Aids and violence perpetuated mostly by men. These challenges warrant a collective effort from every sector of our society. Oppression of women diminishes everybody's freedom.

Both men and women have a challenge of ensuring that a harmonious environment that will ensure all sexes receive total equal opportunities is created in all spheres of society. As OR Tambo emphasised, "[women also] have a duty to liberate us men from antique concepts and attitudes about the place of women in society*"

The African National Congress Parliamentary Caucus salutes all our mothers and sisters on this historic day. In the same vein, we honour the past and the present heroines of our struggle such as Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Suzman, Victoria Mxenge, Charlotte Maxeke, Amina Cachalia, Ruth First, Epeinette Mbeki, Francis Baart, Adelaide Tambo, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela *among others.

Malibongwe Igama lamaKhosikazi!

For more information contact:

Mpho Lekgoro, MP [Caucus Spokesperson]
083 255 8118

Moloto Mothapo [Head of Caucus Communications]
082 370 6930