National Women’s Day is celebrated in South Africa on 9 August every year. In 1956 roughly 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest carrying pass books. At the time, all non-white citizens were required to carry these pass books which detailed their personal information and other ‘permission’ documents. This year also marks two additional celebrations - 25 years of democratic freedom in South Africa and the 65th anniversary of the Founding Conference of the Federation of South African Women which adopted the 1954 Women’s Charter. August has been declared Women’s Month by the South African governments and the month highlights the plights and triumphs of women in South Africa. This year’s theme is #WhatWomenWant and focuses on promoting gender equality for a sustainable future.
Gender equality is making news headlines across the world at the moment with more and more people becoming aware of the gender pay gap and gender workplace discimination. Gender-based violence (GBV) has taken the spotlight again this Women’s Month with UCT students and staff protesting in purple T-shirts - purple being the colour of International Women’s Day. The colour purple also has a history in South Africa’s anit-apartheid movement. The Purple March in Cape Town on 2 September 1989 was an anti-apartheid protest where police used water cannons with purple dye on protestors attempting to march on parlament. More recently, purple has gained popularity with ‘I purple you’ from Kpop sensation BTS with the meaning of love, trust and loyalty. Sports brand Nike has made various statements on the topic of gender equality through adverts featuring various sports women including South African Caster Semenya. All share a common message of inclusion in society as well as understanding and acceptance of differences.
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