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NUM Women's Structure National Women's Day message

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NUM Women's Structure National Women's Day message

Press Statement, 09 August 2020


NUM Women's Structure National Women's Day message


Revolutionary greetings from the office of National Women Structure of The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to beautiful women of our country and special greetings to the women of the NUM.

09th August is National Women’s Day in South Africa whereby as women we not only celebrate but commemorate the achievements of the Women of 1956.

As Women of today, it is upon ourselves to each emulate The Women of 1956, we should strongly and positively continue with the NOW fight that is Gender Equality and Gender-Based Violence.   
The 2020 Women’s Day is commemorated under the theme “Generation Equality:  Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future”.  This is the national theme that Minister in Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Mme Maite Nkoana-Mashabane launched on the 31st July 2020 in commemorating 2020 Women’s Month Program.
As women of South Africa, we celebrate and commemorate Women’s Day under very difficult times whereby globally we are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and Gender-Based Violence. 

The month of August celebrates women and their achievements across SA.  This special time calls upon all of us to reflect on the immense contribution women have made to the history of this country and continue to make as the drivers of change for a better society and SA for all.

National Women’s Day draws attention to significant issues South African women still face such as single parenting, domestic violence, and sexual harassment in the place of work, pornography, unequal pay and schooling for all girls.  This day can be used as a day to protest or fight for these issues.  Due to this public holiday, there have been many significant advances.  Before 1994, women had low representation in Parliament of only 2.7%, this number has significantly doubled being 48% throughout the country’s government.  National women’s Day is based around much of the same principles as International Women’s Day on the 08th March and strives for much of the same freedom and rights, and International Women’s Equality Day that is commemorated on the 26th August.  The day takes us back as US women officially became part of the constitution on the 26th August 1920.  This day marked a turning point in the history of the struggles for equal treatment of women’s rights.


On Women’s Day and any other day, we need to ask ourselves what we are celebrating when this failing economic system has shown time and time again that women are not ‘valuable’.  On the surface, celebrating Women’s Day or month is important, because it is symbolic. 
Women such as Winnie Mandela, Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Suzman, Albertina Sisulu and many others have worked hard to ensure that women have better representation, and this should be celebrated. 
However, a deeper look into Women’s Day elicits reflection that should be part of the celebration.  In simple terms, what is worth celebrating? The obvious answer would be that women are free from the political bondage that was apartheid, that women in general – and black women in particular – have fewer structural impediments to entering and progressing in business and at work, and that to some extent, women no longer have to enter the institution of marriage and bear children to be significant. 

But on the flip side, men are at war with women; even when women are able to overcome the historical and structural oppression and make it into workplaces, they still have to deal with sexual harassment and being undervalued. They face similar oppression in their communities and at homes. 

When capitalism is in crisis, it turns on women, people of colour, LGBTI community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and Intersex).  We have seen this throughout history that when World War I and II ended globally, economies were in tatters and capitalism had to repress women to regain its edge longer and able to provide for their families in the way that society expected them to. 

This created what Bell Hooks refers to as a crisis of patriarchal masculinity, where Men were suddenly confused about their role as men in the family and society, because the meaning they attached to being men as ‘provider’, ‘strong’, ‘head of the home’, etc., no longer applied to them.  This confusion and frustration were taken out on women, both at home and in the workplace.  Men were able to re-enter the workplace, despite women being paid less; many employers still preferred to hire men over women, and women lost their jobs to make room for men.  As countries started to rebuild after both wars, women were convinced that their main role was in the home raising the kids, while the men grew the economy. 

The same is true for South Africa; at the end of apartheid, the South African economy was in ruins because of sanctions and because apartheid criminals emptied state funds before fleeing the country.  Apartheid was ruthless to black men – many leaders killed, exiled, or in jail.  A lot of the later apartheid liberation work was carried out by women and the youth.  Similarly, as women in Europe and America were pushed aside after the wars, women in South Africa had to take a back seat to allow men to take the lead in growing a struggling economy

Today, while the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone, everywhere, but the impact is not the same as the pandemic is deepening existing inequalities and vulnerabilities, particularly for women and girls

Sexual and reproductive health care is a right, and like pregnancies and childbirth, human rights don’t stop during the pandemic. Together, let’s put the brakes on COVID-19 and safeguard the health and rights of women and girls.

It empowers women. Having a day to commemorate the history and the fight that women have fought is a great way to remember and ensure progress in the future.

 It raises awareness. Women have had a lot of obstacles to go through and having days like these help to raise awareness on just how far women have come.

 It’s full of history. Women have had a long forged path of fighting for freedom and this day honours all the sacrifices women have made throughout South African history.

From the office of The National Women Structure, we wish you a day filled with goodness and warmth, wishing you happiness, today and forever, no matter from which angle you appear to be.  On Women’s Day and any other day, it’s always a perfect day to say as women, we are lucky to have each other and to be in each other’s’ life” 

A strong Woman is 100% herself, 100% of the time.  The strongest actions for a woman is to love herself, be herself and shine amongst those who never believed that she could self.

Mathapelo Khanye, NUM National Women's Structure National Secretary, 064 051 3904
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