10 August 2012
South Africa is to erect a Women’s Monument – incorporating a multi-purpose women’s training centre – at Lillian Ngoyi Square in Pretoria to serve as a memorial to the women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against apartheid’s pass laws.
The march was led by four women: Charlotte Maxeke, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams De Bruyn.
“It is imperative that we have a monument to honour the 1956 women,” Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said as South Africa celebrated Women’s Day on Thursday.
The monument will stand next to the State Theatre along Lillian Nqoyi Street.
It will include a multi-purpose centre that will provide space both for formal and informal training for women and for providing information to the younger generation about the women’s struggle for emancipation, as well as market access for local crafts.
It will also serve as a leadership training centre where women will be taught about political and developmental issues.
The Gauteng provincial government, in partnership with the City of Tshwane, will build the monument, and have set aside roughly R100-million and R8-million respectively for the project.
Women from across the country descended on the City of Tshwane on Thursday to celebrate Women’s Day. They proceeded from Lillian Ngoyi Square (formerly known as Strijdom Square, the point from which the 1956 women marched) to the Union Buildings, escorted by traffic officials and singing freedom songs.
South Africa now observes August as Women’s Month. It is a tribute not only to the thousands of women who marched in 1956, but also to the pioneers of the women’s movement in the country.