Address by Cllr Thandi Nontenja, UDM Councillor in the City of Johannesburg at Special Council Meeting to Bestow the Freedom of the City of Johannesburg on the leaders of the 1956 Women’s March on 15 August 2013 Council Chambers

Madam Speaker
Executive Mayor
Members of the Mayoral Committee
Mama Sophie de Bruyn
Families of the recipients
Fellow Councillors
Ladies and Gentlemen

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) joins you in saluting the brave women who marched in 1956 to petition against legislation that required Africans to carry the pass during the apartheid era. We are to this day amazed by what those twenty thousand women did as they marched to the Union Buildings at a point in time when people went to jail for less. Their march was a significant step towards gender equality in South Africa.

Under the inspired leadership of people such as Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Lilian Ngoyi and Sophia Williams-de Bruyn, the women of South Africa showed their resilience, political will and female solidarity.

As we celebrate Women’s Month, we must however admit that we have not achieved our mission, because gender bias and discrimination remain an unfortunate factor in our country. Today’s women are faced with much more daunting challenges like HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, poverty, rape, etc. Unless as South Africans we take drastic steps to correct the social ills that are glaring in the various sectors of our society, the struggle of these courageous women will be in vain.

As women leaders we must take responsibility for the legacy left by these courageous women of 1956 and blaze the trail for those who come after us. We cannot disappoint the women who passed the baton to us; and we cannot fail our girls and their daughters.

Tomorrow, as we commemorate the Marikana Massacre; we share the pain and anguish of our sisters and daughters who lost their loved ones. We hope that justice will eventually prevail.

The UDM is in support of bestowing the Freedom of the City of Johannesburg on bomama Helen Josephs, Rahima Moosa, Sophia Williams de Bruyn, Lillian Ngoyi.

Wathint’ abafazi wathint’ imbokodo

Thank you.