Highway Africa respects the 9th August in honor of all women.  While it is a day that can be used to relax it is also a day strategically said aside 17 years ago in South Africa to pay marked respect to all women.  This day commemorates 9 August 1956 when women participated in a national march to petition against pass laws (legislation that required African persons to carry a document on them to ‘prove’ that they were allowed to enter a ‘white area’).

The Federation of South African Women (Fedsaw) organised the March, led by four women; Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophy Williams and Lilian Ngoyi. The leaders delivered petitions to Prime Minister JG Strijdom’s office within the Union Buildings. Women throughout the country had put their names to these petitions indicating their anger and frustration at having their freedom of movement restricted by the hated official passes.

To conclude the Women’s March the women sang freedom songs such as Nkosi sikeleli Afrika, however, the song that became the anthem of the march was “Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!”

wathint’ abafazi,
wathint’ imbokodo,
uza kufa!

[When] you strike the women,
you strike a rock,
you will be crushed [you will die]!

The march was a resounding success and we recognise the bravery of these women who risked arrest, detention and banning by declaring 9 August National Women’s Day.

There will be celebrations all over the country tomorrow and Highway Africa will not only be with all in spirit but in their efforts to keep journalism alive on the continent and ensure the peoples stories and concerns reach global audiences  are told.  The many new media platforms such as www.highwayafrica.com linked to twitter and facebook  alongside the international annual conference, 17-19 September 2011, Cape Town ICC.  The annual Highway Africa conference is the largest gathering of AFrican journalists on the contient that not only seeks to uphold the efforts of journalists on the African continent but seeks to ensure that it is at the heart of all issues ensuring issues of gender and particularly the rights of women in the world are upheld.

Happy Womens Day!