Byline: Kelebogile Masemola

10 August 2022

The Gauteng Provincial Government in partnership with the City of Tshwane celebrated the 2022 Women’s Day under the theme “Women’s Socio-Economic Rights, Empowerment, and Resilience” at the Union Building, in Pretoria on 9 August 2022. 

Women’s Month is celebrated annually to tribute to more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of pass laws to women.  

Led by Gauteng Premier, David Makhura and MEC Mbali Hlophe, this year’s celebrations took place in the form of an exclusive inter-generational dialogue addressing the challenges women continue to face today and possible solutions that could be used to address such challenges, in particular poverty and financial exclusion, as well as gender-based-violence.  

Panellists included Mama Sophie De Bruyn, the only surviving leader of the historic 1956 Women’s march and a former anti-apartheid activist, Zulaika Patel, a member of the Gauteng Youth Advisory Panel, Dr Mauli who holds a PHD in Fashion Design and Ms Elaine Vadivelu, a director and entrepreneur. 

Gauteng Premier, David Makhura said women’s socio-economic rights and empowerment will build back better for women’s resilience.

“50% of provincial government funding should go to women owned township businesses.

For as long as women bear the brunt of criminality, particularly GBV, we will not rest.

This morning I join the ANC Women’s League as we march to the Union Buildings as part of our recommitment to be at the forefront, 365 days, of putting an end to all crimes against women,” Makhura said.

The day’s programme kicked off with a march from Church Square to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Anti-apartheid struggle veteran Sophia de Bruyn speaking as a member of the ANC, de Bruyn said she was concerned with the current trajectory of the governing party.

“It is an extremely difficult situation especially when you are ANC yourself and you know the mistakes that we’ve made.

Our leadership is not taking advice when it is given to them.

There is a move to renew but what is the renewal I do not know, I have not seen the blueprint of this renewal.

I do not see the unity in the ANC, there is still a sense of talking past one another,” said de Bruyn.

As a veteran of the struggle against apartheid and leader in the fight for women, de Bruyn conceded that she is hugely disappointed in the current state of the nation.

“Sometimes I cry, I swallow a lump in my throat, when we are together with other veterans we bemoan what is going on.

When we are together with other veterans we bemoan what is going on and we ask, is this what our martyrs, our heroines, our icons, is this what they suffered and died for? Is what is happening today a sign of things to come?

Expanding on her motivation for a women’s movement, De Bruyn said “the most important thing for our young people to do is to form one big gigantic organisation.

You know know in the 1950s there were all this different organisations but they were all under all those formations together under that umbrella of the Federation of South African Women.

We managed to bring all those formations together under that umbrella and we succeeded without any resources.

If women’s organisations can speak with one voice and be unified, that is how I think we can overcome a lot of the ills that have beset our country,” she said.