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Celebrating South African Women

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) celebrated Women’s Month and the 60th Anniversary of the Women’s Day march to the Union Buildings, in 1956, on 29 August 2016 by inviting iconic South African women to share their stories of resilience and life successes with the ladies that work at the DBE. Special guests included Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Prof Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, Ms Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Ms Abigail Kubeka, as well as the mother and sister of Hector Pieterson, the youth who became the iconic image of the 1976 Soweto uprising during Apartheid, Ms Dorothy Molefi and Ms Antoinette Sithole/Lulu Pieterson/Sina Molefi

Deputy Minister Enver Surty, who had no problem being the only thorn amongst the roses, saluted the brave women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 to protest about the carrying of passes, saying that: “The struggle has to continue to overcome violence and abuse against women”. He further expressed his gratitude towards Minister Angie Motshekga, whom he praised for her exemplary leadership and described as a remarkable woman.

Prof Justice Yvonne Mokgoro

Prof Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, a former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, was appointed to the bench in 1994 by former President Nelson Mandela. She also served as chairperson of the South African Law Reform Commission until 2012 and is an honorary professor at a number of universities in South Africa as well as a former board member of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria. Prof Justice Mokgoro said  that the Preamble of the Constitution of South Africa remains the focal point for discussions during the Women’s Month commemorations as “it represents the soul of the citizens of the country”. She emphasised the fact that “education is the tool to better one’s life” and shared the advice that her mother gave to her to succeed in life: “Do the right thing, every time, all the time”.


Dr Mamphela Aletta Ramphele 

Dr Mamphela Aletta Ramphele is a South African politician, a medical doctor, an academic and businesswoman. She is a former Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town and a one-time Managing Director at the World Bank. Dr Ramphele, saluted the women and “freedom rights fighters” of 1956 and touched on the disturbing phenomenon of gender-based violence which is rife in the country. She reminded the attendees that “we should be united in our diversity as South Africa belongs to all the people who live in it, black and white; and that we must work together to build a non-racist, non-sexist, non-patriarchal South Africa of which every citizen can be proud of”. Dr Ramphele also shared her ideas of what is required for a re-engineered education system. She mentioned the empowerment of our youth and the restructuring of the skills development and training sector as two examples; and added that educators and DBE officials should assist the youth to unleash the genius in every learner to realise the essence of “Ubuntu”.


Ms Sizakele Mile delivered a touching tribute to courageous women during the function and all the women in education who attended the event left the venue lifted by the words of encouragement.During the vote of thanks, Minister Motshekga appealed to women in authority to “lift others up when you rise to power”, saying that women should work together and network to empower and to inspire each other. Minister Motshekga saluted the Pieterson family, in particular and quoted Solomon Mahlangu who said: “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom”.  Minister Motshekga also acknowledged Ms Yvonne Chaka Chaka as a source of inspiration during the difficult years of the freedom struggle as artists are regarded as a special breed of liberation heroes.

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