Women’s monument unveiled in Tshwane

10 August 2016

The Women’s Living Heritage Monument, unveiled by President Jacob Zuma on
Women’s Day 9 August 2016, commemorates the story of women’s contribution to
the liberation struggle and features four statues of the heroic stalwarts, Lillian
Ngoyi, Sophia Williams-de Bruyn, Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa.

The four women led a peaceful protest march to the Union Buildings in 1956,
with thousands of women from all parts of the country. The women delivered a
petition to the then Prime Minister, JG Strijdom, against carrying a pass book,
referred to as a dom pass in Afrikaans, meaning “dumb pass”. They also marched against the degradation of African women. This Women’s Day marked the 60th anniversary of the march.

The monument also includes a leadership development and training centre, and
dedicated walls for murals, artworks and artefacts that tell the stories of women’s
struggles throughout the South Africa’s history.

Susan Shabangu, the Minister of Women in the Presidency, said the event was
an emotional reflection on what women have done to take the country from where
it was to where it is today.

“Women once more are gathered here to witness the opening of the living
monument, where people can see the contribution of women across colour lines,”
the minister said in her presentation.

Shabangu asked women, particularly young women, to visit the monument in
order to reflect and inform their destiny, adding that “the women of the 1956 march
played their role and today we have a Constitution which includes what women
fought for”.

She said it is up to the young South African women of today to protect the
Constitution and ensure human rights, especially women’s rights, are not violated.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, African Union Commission chairperson
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the last surviving march leader De Bruyn, were
among those who attended the unveiling and toured the monument.

De Bruyn told EWN News that the monument and recognition of the struggle of
women during apartheid gave her great joy, particularly seeing how far women
have come in advancing their rights since 1956.

“Today when I see what they’ve achieved, they’ve achieved a lot. They can
choose their own professions, they can choose anything they want to do, and I often
say to them that it’s no longer a case of the sky being the limit. But you can go
beyond the sky because you can even become an astronaut.”

Also in attendance were a number of women who were part of the original 1956
march.

Mita Motlolometsi marched 60 years ago and had come to witness the unveiling
of the monument.

She said the day was an emotional one for her because she had witnessed
history unfold around her over the last six decades, particularly since 1994. She felt
proud that she had been a small part of bringing change to the country.

However, while commending the interventions made by democracy to empower black people, Motlolometsi said that women and, especially elderly women, were not fully liberated yet.

Motlolometsi hopes there will be more efforts made by the country to unite,
respect and liberate the nation’s women.

Source: South African Government News Agency Southafrica.info reporter

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