It was a historic moment when, on 9 August 1956, 20 000 women staged a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The women were protesting against the proposed amendment to the Urban Areas Act which endorsed the legislation that required African persons to carry the 'pass.'
As South Africa commemorates this historic day on 9th August, now called ‘Women’s Day’, the NEPAD Agency commends the brave women of South Africa who on that day in 1956, united for a just cause. May each celebration mark steady progress towards a fair and equitable South African society, in which women and girls fully enjoy their fundamental rights to freedom. They need to be free from violence and other social ills which impede their attainment of sustainable human security, well-being, leadership and influence.
The significance of Women’s Day within the Agency’s context is closely linked to Africa’s Development Agenda as enshrined within the Agenda 2063 vision. The vision seeks to address challenges that women still face throughout the continent, such as unemployment, gender inequalities, gender-based violence, unequal pay, limited access to education for girls, child marriages and many other issues that women continue to face.
We recognise that through the realisation of the Agenda 2063 aspiration for an Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential offered by African people (especially its women and youth) women will become more empowered and their challenges will reduce.
The unity displayed by the women in the 1956 march is a unity that we as the NEPAD Agency encourage women to continue displaying – a unity that will see African women working jointly on national, regional and continent-wide projects for a common goal, a prosperous Africa!
On this day, in 2018, 61 years after the women’s march, we say to women: “We must be methodical in putting women at the centre of the development agenda. If we get this right, we will see the lives of millions of people improve faster than at any other time in history.”
Happy Women’s Day!