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Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas At The Namakwaland Women’s Day Celebrations

Today marked the 57th Anniversary of the 1956 Women’s Anti-pass march. On this day in 1956, more than 20 000 women marched against the discriminatory pass laws which had restricted the movement of black people in the country.

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The Northern Cape Provincial Government held commemorative events in all five the districts to pay tribute to the event of that day as well as the relentless struggle of the women of those women. The focus is also on the strides made in that South Africa is today a constitutional democracy where gender equality is also a constitutional imperative. Our Constitution recognises women as equal citizens, with equal rights and responsibilities.

The Premier, Ms Sylvia Lucas, led the celebrations in Nababeep in the Namakwaland District. The theme for Women’s Day 2013 is “A Centenary of Working Together towards Sustainable Women Empowerment and Gender Equality”. In attendance were community members from Matjieskloof, Pofadder, Okiep, Kommaggas and Garies.

The Speaker of the Namakwa District Municipality, Ms Sylvia Kardinaal, explained that women of today must demonstrate the courage that the women of 1956 portrayed and realise that with the strength that they possess they can make an indelible mark in society.

Ms Lucas stated that today we are honouring the women in 1956 that made sure that we can attain our goal to bring change in this democratic South Africa. We must honour the 20000 women whose actions led to the change that we see today, a democratic, non racist, non sexist South Africa.

She went further to say that through Women’s Day we also need to reflect on gender violence and the impact that it has on society, therefore we need to work together as men and women to ensure that we build communities free from violence especially against women and children. The celebrations also focus on the five priorities of Government viz.

  • Job creation, decent work and sustainable livelihoods for women, including funding mechanisms for increasing opportunities for women’s economic empowerment;
  • Education for women and girls with a focus on science and technology;
  • Women’s health especially decreasing maternal mortality and the negative impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls;
  • Addressing the growing scourge of gender based violence; and
  • Rural women’s development, land reform and food security for women and girls.

Ms Lucas also highlighted the role that Charlotte Maxeke, the founding member of the ANC Women’s League, played in the Liberation struggle. She was the first woman who organised an Anti Pass march in 1930. She was also an activist that fought for Worker’s rights and equal rights for women.

Ms Lucas concluded by saying that women of today must emulate and follow the example of Charlotte Maxeke and the women of 1956 and make education their number one priority.

After the event Ms Lucas also paid a visit to the small community of Sonop to interact with the women of that area regarding the challenges that they face and how they can work together with Government to overcome these.

Released by the Office of the Premier

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Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams
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