This weekend we celebrate National Women’s Day in South Africa. Men’s noses are often out of joint, around this time of the year, “What makes women so special that they get their own public holiday” some say, or “If there is a women’s day, then why can’t we have a men’s day too”, our usual response to these questions would be “But its men’s day every day of the year, you don’t need a special day” or “When was the last time you gave me flowers!”

So it got me thinking, how many of us actually know why we celebrate this day, as it’s not just, women being recognised for their strength, beauty, intelligence and  sensitivity (although, that would be enough), there has to be another more important reason. After a bit of research, I discovered, that there is-

9th August commemorates the national march of women, when in 1956 they petitioned against the legislation that required African persons to carry the “pass“, special identification documents which curtailed an African’s freedom of movement during the apartheid era.

On this day, women stood silently in protest outside the Union Buildings for 30 minutes, many with their children on their backs. The women sang a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion: Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! or: Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock! In the 54 years since, the phrase or its latest incarnation: “you strike a woman, you strike a rock” has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.

So, now you know. Next time when a man asks you why women are so special,  you can ‘tune‘ him, that women played a small but vital role in the process of eradicating the apartheid regime in South Africa… oh and where are my flowers?.


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