Jubilant celebrations across SA for Women's Day

Baleka Mbete, Speaker of the National Assembly. (Supplied)
Baleka Mbete, Speaker of the National Assembly. (Supplied)

It was a day of jubilant celebrations across South Africa as the nation celebrated the victories and accomplishments of women.

While a number of events were held, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed a gathering in Paarl in the Western Cape.

While Ramaphosa called for the exploitation and brutalisation of women to end, he was confronted with a small group of protesters during his address.

They called for an end to farm evictions who filed into the front of the stage as he was about to take the podium. Some of their placards read, "This is our land" and "We want our land back".

A woman addressed the group separately as Ramaphosa told them they would be heard, and they filed out again quietly.

Ramaphosa continued his address saying women should feel protected whether they are in the streets, on village pathways, at university, at work, or just going about their daily lives.

Parliament also wished women well saying Speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Thandi Modise saluted the women of 1956 for their courage and resilience.

"Their resolve and unwavering commitment towards ensuring a free and just South Africa for all women is exemplary."

Parliament also reflected on the growing statistics showing violence against women.

"Statistics South Africa's 2016/17 Victims of Crime report says that 250 out of every 100 000 women were victims of sexual offences. South African Police Service crime statistics for 2016/17 also show that 80% of the reported sexual offences were rape."

Director for the Centre for Constitutional Rights Phephelaphi Dube said SA was "a much-improved version of itself".

"These improvements are largely due to its progressive Constitution, which guarantees both substantive and formal equality before the law. However, this is not to suggest that nirvana for South Africa’s women has been reached."

Dube said Statistics South Africa numbers show that the unemployment rate for women was not promising.

"The rate of unemployment, according to the official definition, was 29.5% amongst women in the second quarter of 2018, compared with 25.3% amongst men."

Dube said further figures from Stats SA show that far more women than men are HIV-positive, while HIV prevalence in women aged 15 to 24 is nearly four times greater than men of that age.

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) meanwhile called on government, the private sector and society at large to embrace equality between women and men.

"Fedusa shall promote and drive an all-out campaign to ensure that a well-balanced gender perspective is factored into all social dialogue platforms particularly in collective bargaining, climate change and social protection policies."

The ANC in a statement said that when more than 20 000 women marched to Union Buildings in 1956, it was a moment in history.

The ruling party said that the 24 years of democracy, the ANC-led government made significant progress towards the restoration of the dignity of women.

"Women now have access to services and positions that were a dream only a mere 24-years-ago. The living conditions of the majority of ordinary women have undergone significant qualitative change. We are encouraged by these developments but believe that more still needs to be done."

The National Union of Mine Workers (Numsa) took a radical stance saying they "not celebrating Women's Day".

"We are a nation anchored in slavery, colonialism and Apartheid. Today, African women continue to be the most exploited and abused. In the workplace they are the lowest paid and are often exposed to the worst working conditions. They are victims of harassment and assault by their bosses, only to confront the same abuse at home."

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