Millions of people around the world are marking International Women’s Day, in what campaigners are saying is the most political global event of its kind yet, The Guardian says.
Women in more than 50 countries will go on strike from paid and unpaid labour on Wednesday, while many more will be taking part in protests and direct action. In some countries women will wear black, or different colours, while the focus on issues from femicide to abortion will be decided in each nation.
The International Women’s Strike is suggesting that women “boycott local misogynists”, stop shopping, go on a sex strike, block roads and streets, and take part in marches or pickets. Women are also encouraged to leave calls to action in “out of office” replies, describing why they are striking.
We honour all the women who made a difference in our lives:
- History of the Women’s struggle in South Africa
Women at the start of the 20th century
It is only over the last three or four decades that women’s role in the history of South Africa has, belatedly, been given some recognition. Previously the history of women’s political organization, their struggle for freedom from oppression, for community rights and, importantly, for gender equality, was largely ignored in history texts. Not only did most of these older books lean heavily towards white political development to the detriment of studies of the history and interaction of whites with other racial groups, but they also focused on the achievements of men (often on their military exploits or leadership ability) virtually leaving women out of South African history.
The reason for this ‘invisibility’ of women, calls for some explanation. South African society (and this applies in varying degrees to all race groups) are conventionally patriarchal. In other words, it was the men who had authority in society; women were seen as subordinate to men. Women’s role was primarily a domestic one; it included child rearing and seeing to the well-being, feeding and care of the family. They were not expected to concern themselves with matters outside the home – that was more properly the domain of men. Economic activity beyond the home (in order to help feed and clothe the family) was acceptable, but not considered ‘feminine’. However, with the rise of the industrial economy, the growth of towns and (certainly in the case of indigenous societies) the development of the migrant labour system, these prescriptions on the role of women, as we shall see, came to be overthrown.
This is a particularly appropriate time to be studying the role of women in the progress towards the new South African democracy. The year 2006 was a landmark year in which we celebrated the massive Women’s March to the Union Buildings in Pretoria 50 years ago. Women throughout the country had put their names to petitions and thus indicated anger and frustration at having their freedom of movement restricted by the hated official passes. The bravery of these women (who risked official reprisals including arrest, detention and even bannings) is applauded here. So too are their organizational skills and their community-consciousness – they were tired of staying at home, powerless to make significant changes to a way of life that discriminated against them primarily because of their race, but also because of their class and their gender.
- Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist and activist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s.
A daughter of slaves, Ida B. Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, on July 16, 1862. A journalist, Wells led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s, and went on to found and become integral in groups striving for African-American justice. She died in 1931 in Chicago, Illinois.
Born a slave in 1862, Ida Bell Wells was the oldest daughter of James and Lizzie Wells. The Wells family, as well as the rest of the slaves of the Confederate states, were decreed free by the Union, about six months after Ida’s birth, thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation. However, living in Mississippi as African Americans, they faced racial prejudices and were restricted by discriminatory rules and practices.
Mme Miriam Tladi – first Black woman South African to publish a novel
Shirley Chisholm ran for President of US in 1972.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – Until January – Chairperson of the African Union