Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, paid tribute to the more than 20,000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 09 August 1956 in protest against the extension of pass laws to women during a Women’s Day event that took place at the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in Pretoria on 04 September 2017. Minister Motsekga also used the opportunity to honour women stalwarts such as Mme Adelaide Tambo, Charlotte Maxeke and Cecile Palmer for their contribution to the liberation struggle: “To them and their generation, we owe a debt of gratitude for their selfless contribution to the liberation of our country from the yoke of the apartheid pariah regime. With their passing, a century of struggle went with them. It is our duty to keep their memory alive. It is our moral responsibility to ensure that their legacy lives on”.
South Africa has seen an increase in the levels of violence and brutality against women and children in our society and this is concerning. Minister Motshekga said that more needs to be done in order to address the plight of women and children, in particular. As a Department, we are increasingly working at ways to make our teaching and learning environment more gender sensitive and we have ensured that the question of rights and responsibilities becomes a component of our Life Orientation curriculum.
Three guest speakers, Justice Bess Nkabinde and former National Police Commissioner, Ms Riah Phiyega, shared their words of inspiration with the delegates. “We are able; we contribute to moving our country forward every day," said Justice Nkabinde. Ms Phiyega motivated the audience through her words: “We seem to shy away from those capabilities that are uniquely ours; allow the light inside you to shine through". Business woman, Ms Boitumelo Sebape, advised the women in attendance to "be strong, be confident and to be you".
In closure, Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty thanked the strong women present for their colossal contribution towards the transformation of the education sector.
This year, Cabinet adopted “Women United in Moving South Africa Forward” as an overarching theme with a focus on OR Tambo’s heroic contribution to the liberation struggle. This suggests that men such as Tambo have always been playing a critical role in supporting South African women. Tambo, and the values that he stood for, is therefore a sterling example to fellow South Africans.