Pretoria – The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Pretoria and the Human Sciences Research Council commemorated South African’s national Women’s Day on 6 August by organizing an exhibition in Pretoria titled, “Women Empowered”.
The exhibition, which was preceded by a panel discussion on gender equality in South Africa, was organized in collaboration with Gender and Development Unit at the Human Sciences Research Council, the country’s largest and most prominent research institution.
National Women’s Day has been commemorated in every year in South Africa for the past 14 years on 9 August. It was on this day in 1956 that thousands of women marched to the Union Buildings (government headquarters) to hand a petition to the then-Prime Minister, J.G. Stridjom, objecting to the government’s decision to force African women to carry so-called ‘pass books’.
The march was seen as a seminal event in South Africa’s history and hence the month of August is regarded as “Women’s Month” in this country.
It was with this in mind that the UNIC Pretoria decided to plan a commemorative activity with the Human Sciences Research Council, consisting of the panel discussion titled “14 Years of National Women’s Day: Progress of Platitudes?” and the opening of a photo exhibition that had previously been mounted at UN headquarters in New York. CARE International, a non-governmental organization, paid for the pictures to be shipped to South Africa.
UNIC Pretoria invited the editor of the weekly Mail and Guardian newspaper, Ms Ferial Haffajee, to moderate the session. Ms Haffajee is a highly-respected and influential journalist in South Africa and one of the few women editors in the country.
The panelists included Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Ms. Pregs Govender, a gender activist and author, Dr Lulama Makhubela from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Mr Sello Hatang from the South African Human Rights Commission, Professor Claudia Mitchell, from Canada’s based McGill University but currently based at the University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal in Durban. Professor Vasu Reddy, the head of the Gender and Development Unit, presided over the day’s events.
For more information on UNIC Pretoria, please visit the website at pretoria.unic.org