National Women's Day - South Africa

"If you strike a woman, you strike a rock"

National Women's DayEvery year on the 9th August, Women's Day is celebrated in South Africa. It is a public holiday that has been established to pay homage to the women of our nation and those who fought tirelessly against the tyranny of the Apartheid government.

On 9 August 1956, the Federation of South African Women organised a mass demonstration against the imposition of pass laws on women in South Africa. More than 20,000 women, led by Lilian Ngoyi (a trade unionist and political activist), Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, took part in the multi-racial march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister JG Strijdom

An inspiring display of political strength, female solidarity and inner fortitude, the march on August 9 1956, is both a reminder of the great women who helped mould South Africa and the trailblazing women who continue to lead the country forward.

Women today are still facing challenges and discrimination. The informal sector is a source of sustenance for the majority of the poor, unskilled and socially marginalised population, especially women. Many of whom are single parents.

StreetNet stresses for government to assist and do more in the following areas:

  • Labour rights (freedom of association, right not to be discriminated against, equal opportunities, etc.)
  • Employment and income security (including security of workplace)
  • Access to social protection (including maternity protection and health cover)
  • Right to representation in social dialogue and collective negotiations

Happy Women's DayPearl Olatunde, General Secretary of Ubumbano Traders Alliance, an affiliate of StreetNet commented that women are the pillars of our community and are working hard to build a future in our country. "Many of the informal women are breadwinners of the family and they should be recognised for the work they do.

For all those who are struggling, continue to voice your struggles to government and never give up!"

Rosheda Muller, Vice President of the South African Informal Traders Alliance(SAITA) stated that SAITA have always strived for and shall continue to fight towards the upliftment and growth of all women traders in South Africa. " It has been established that women in general comprise of 75% of all informal traders nationally, and it is with this in mind that I emphasise the importance of continual support for them. You are the mothers of this nation and you are the ones who nurture the leaders of tomorrow. The importance of your role in the family and indeed in society can never be over-emphasised. Your roles have been defined by the Almighty. It is not always easy and it becomes quite challenging at times. But it is only because you are women-of-worth, that you survive these challenges.

Stay strong, remain focussed, and do not give up. You are the rocks upon which any society is built."

StreetNet wishes all women a Happy Women's Day!!

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StreetNet International

StreetNet International is an alliance of street vendors. It was launched in Durban, South Africa, in November 2002.

Membership-based organizations (unions, co-operatives or associations) directly organizing street vendors, market vendors and/or hawkers among their members, are entitled to affiliate to StreetNet International.

The aim of StreetNet is to promote the exchange of information and ideas on critical issues facing street vendors, market vendors and hawkers (i.e. mobile vendors) and on practical organizing and advocacy strategies