Why we celebrate Women’s Day

August 8, 2013

I was sitting with my niece, discussing what we would do on Friday. She asked me whether Women’s Day was the same as Mother’s Day. And as I sat down to explain the difference to her, I was once again reminded of how strong women were.

On 9 August 1956, about 2 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the proposed amendments to the pass laws. Once outside the Union Buildings, they stood silently for 30 minutes. They then left petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures at the office doors.

This day stands out to me personally as a day when women not only stood together for a common cause to make a difference but also did this in a peaceful manner. And from even before that day, women have remained strong and fought for their rights and their place in society, and they have done all this while taking care of families and communities.

Today girls have the choice to study wherever they please and to enter whichever industry most appeals to them. We have the choice either to concentrate on our careers or to stay at home to raise a family, and yet some women choose to do both. We are able to go wherever we please and to befriend, marry and spend our time with whomever we choose. We have women in high positions and in every industry you can think of. There are women who drive trains, fly planes, excel in sports and take part in the most amazing activities that showcase their strengths not only mentally but physically too. There are women who are incredibly artistic and are creating the most beautiful art you can imagine.

This Friday, while you are on holiday, take a few minutes to think about all that the women in your lives help you with. They keep households running and keep us fed and healthy, and they can do all this with heels on and with their hair and nails done.

‘Now you understand just why my head’s not bowed. I don’t shout or jump about or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing it ought to make you proud. I say, it’s in the click of my heels, the bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, the need of my care. ’Cause I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.’ – Excerpt from Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’

This is a day to celebrate not only our mothers, but our wives, sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, mothers-in-law, step-mothers, step-sisters, female colleagues, female teachers, female neighbours and even female strangers whom you might come across. It’s a day to celebrate the women in our lives and all that they do for families, communities and the country on a daily basis.

What does Women’s Day mean to you?


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