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Celebrating the 60th ANNIVERSARY of the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings “Women United in Moving South Africa Forward”

Posted: 08 August 2016


In 1995, former President Nelson Mandela declared 9 August a National Women’s Day in South Africa.

This was in recognition of the heroic struggles that women waged in the anti-apartheid struggle. Women’s Day in South Africa, represents an affirmation of the contributions that women have made in the struggle against colonial and apartheid oppression historically. It is a recognition and acceptance by the nation that the country’s attainment of political freedom and democracy was also as a result of the role played by women. The day also symbolises a commitment to continue the struggle against patriarchy and the achievement of a non-sexist society as an ultimate goal.

Gender equality is a founding principle and core right of the South African Constitution and the Country has made significant progress in putting in place legislation and policy frameworks for advancing equality and empowerment for women. It is within this broad context that SALGA has endorsed the establishment of the Women’s Commission to support the national developmental goal of women’s empowerment and gender equality at local government level.

The SALGA Women’s Commission is a mechanism to institutionalise advocacy processes as the voice of women in local government and ensure progress at a local level in response to the national and international development goals of women empowerment and gender equity.

The SWC has been spearheading the 50/50 campaign in an effort towards achieving equal representation and participation of men and women especially in decision making processes at the local level. In addition, SALGA and its member municipalities have set up and continue to establish gender structures particularly; the Women’s Caucus as Section 79 Committees and the Special Programmes Units to drive gender mainstreaming and women empowerment in local government.

2016 marks the 60th Anniversary of the 1956 women’s march to the Union Buildings. In 2015 Cabinet approved the theme for the Women’s Month for the following 3 years and will continue until the end of 2017.

Therefore the 2016 Women’s Month Theme remains: “Women United in Moving South Africa Forward”. The logo for the 60th anniversary celebration of the women’s march of 1956 is premised around the African context depicting women of all races united in moving the struggle of women forward.

The objectives of the 60th Anniversary will include:

  • Celebrating the successes of the women struggles, reaffirming the commitment to strive for a society free of all forms of discrimination
  • Raising awareness about the role that women played with the aim of unifying women within the context of the socio-economic empowerment and gender equality in order to move South Africa forward
  • Taking stock of progress made, challenges still faced, realign and reposition the sustainability of women’s empowerment,
  • Emphasis that society cannot be free until its women are free from discrimination, oppression and inequality.

The 60th anniversary celebrations are crafted in such a way that they promote the passing of the baton to the young women of South Africa to continue the struggle of economic emancipation of women. The approach is amongst others to:

  • Tell Her-story, the story of women, their struggles and their organisations in South Africa across race, class, sectors, religion, political affiliation, profession
  • Celebrate themes of achievements and commitment to progress still required
  • Reinforce the importance of organised women, united women, and the common programme of demands of women

Our country will always be indebted to the women who participated in the 1956 march and whose actions set the tone for gender equality and empowerment in a democratic South Africa. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Women’s March of 1956, let us therefore all join in remembering the history of women’s struggle in South Africa.

In commemorating the 60th anniversary, SALGA will be joining the University of South Africa UNISA and the South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID) women’s month celebration under the theme: Celebrating 60 years of women’s collective activism for social change: Looking Ahead- African Women Agenda for 2030.

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