International Women’s Day (IWD) is commemorated on 8 March every year around the world. So why does South Africa celebrate an additional National Women’s Day (NWD) on 9 August?
Officially, NWD is celebrated (literally by many people) to mark the march on the Union Buildings by thousands of women during the Apartheid era, on 9 August 1956, to protest the infamous Pass laws, and was led by Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophie WIlliams and Lilian Ngoyi. This act of defiance was a significant event in the struggle against Apartheid; the fact that it was orchestrated by women repudiates the lie that women are the weaker sex.
So is this day worthy of being commemorated? Most certainly! And is the role of women in the struggle against racial oppression worthy of acknowledgement? Off course it is!
But is it necessary to create a separate Women’s Day to that of the rest of the world, as a public holiday to do so? I think not! Especially when the politicians who promulgated the holiday openly exhibit disdain towards womanhood in general.
How can one trust their intentions, especially when their daily behaviour is both dishonourable and contemptuous? It becomes pretty easy to perceive that National Women’s Day, far from being a day to celebrate women, is just an expedient day for politicians (mostly men) to gloat about pseudo-freedom and hitch the event to the bandwagon of political expediency.
Let’s examine some of the reprehensible behaviours of which I write: the President of the country, Jacob Zuma is a polygamist as indeed are many men who revere culture, tradition and religion above the sanctity of womanhood. The President recently granted a multibillion Rand loan (aid) to the despicable neighboring tyrant, King Mswati of Swaziland, another bigot who collects wives: at last count, 14. Mswati is well on his way to attaining the disgusting feat of his father: a harem of 70. Perhaps the loan will help him in his quest for trophies.
Polygamy is disgusting and an outrage towards women. No amount of religious, cultural or social posturing can endorse it.
The ruling ANC government; the ones’ who promulgated this holiday, tend to surround themselves with women who tow the party line and support their self-enrichment schemes; those who are critical of party policy and behaviour, such as Barbara Hogan are quickly silenced and sidelined.
On National Women’s Day tomorrow, the politicians will pay lip service to women, at public events, and use the opportunity to solidify their political power. This much is certain. Only greedy and immoral men will benefit. We must never allow the politicians to perpetuate the exploitation of women.
Women must be celebrated, not because their kind marched against tyranny at some point in the distant past; women must be celebrated because they are fellow human beings, deserving of respect and acknowledgement just as men demand it.