Source: BuaNews
Economic empowerment for South African women will be the focal point of this year's annual Women's Month celebrations.
Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, unveiled the 2011 Women's Month programme on Sunday in Pretoria.

"We will use Women's Month to highlight the economic empowerment of women as a critical element of success for South Africa's efforts to achieve the targets on economic growth, including the creation of five million jobs within the next 10 years, as outlined in the New Growth Plan.

"We agreed that women economic empowerment should be the main focus of this Women's Month celebrations for this year," she said.

The programme emphasises the role of women as equal partners in the economic, social and cultural development of society, as well as ending economic marginalisation of women.

The highlight of the month is the observation of the annual National Women's Day on 9 August and this year, it will be celebrated under the theme, 'Working together to enhance women's opportunities to economic empowerment.'

On 9 August 1956, 20 000 women staged a march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act, commonly known as the pass laws of 1950.

This year's Women's Month will start with the three-day National Women's Conference of more than 800 women from across the country in Boksburg this evening.

The conference creates a platform for engagement on key issues affecting the status of women in the country.

Xingwana said the objective of the gathering is to discuss and resolve key policy considerations to be included in the Gender Equality Bill, which is being developed to increase women participation in all sectors of society.

She said Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is expected to respond to key issues raised by women when he delivers the closing address on August 3.

The minister also announced that this year's National Women's Day will be celebrated at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Limpopo, adding that President Jacob Zuma will be the main speaker.

She further said on 11 - 12 August, there will be a Women Economic Empowerment Conference at the ICC in Durban.

According to Xingwana, the conference will review progress and identify measures needed to advance women empowerment as a prerequisite for global economic competiveness.

Human Settlements Deputy Minister, Zoliswa Kota-Fredericks, said on 18 August, they will hand over 55 houses of the 1 956 houses built in commemoration of 1956 Women's march in Branford, Free State.

Branford is the area where the veteran of the women's movement, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was put under house arrest by the apartheid regime.

The Department of Public Works will also run a programme encouraging indigenous building methods in Limpopo, which were traditionally led by women.

Trade and Industry, Correctional Services and the Department of Social Development, to mention but a few, also have a line-up of activities to celebrate Women's Month.

This year, the country lost Albertina Sisulu and Bertha Gxowa last year. They were part of the group of women who left bundles of petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures at Prime Minister J.G. Strijdom's office doors at the Union Buildings.

MaSisulu and Gxowa, together with other women, stood silently for 30 minutes outside Strijdom's office. The women sang a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion, Wathint' Abafazi Wathint' imbokodo! (You strike a woman, you strike a rock).

Xingwana said: "We owe it to Mama Gxowa and Mama Sisulu and many other fallen heroines of the struggle for gender equality and freedom to make this Women's Month programme a success."

In 2006, a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans. - BuaNews

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