Women’s Day in South Africa is a different date to the rest of the world. Women’s Day in South Africa marks the anniversary of the great women’s march of 1956, where women marched to the Union Buildings to protest against the carrying of pass books.
On 9 August 1956, about 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against legislation aimed at tightening the apartheid government’s control over the movement of black women in urban areas.
The earliest Women’s Day observance, called “National Woman’s Day,”was held on February 28, 1909, in New York, organised by the Socialist Party of America at the suggestion of activist Theresa Malkiel.
In August 1910, an International Socialist Women’s Conference was organised in Copenhagen, Denmark. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual Women’s Day although no date was specified at that conference. Delegates (100 women from 17 countries) agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights including suffrage for women.
The following year on March 19, 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were 300 demonstrations. In Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstrasse and carried banners honouring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Women demanded that they be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination.
The Americans continued to celebrate National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February.
Chas Everitt Cape Town South pays tribute to the fact that the real estate industry remains one where so many women have not only been welcome but have excelled and in so many company’s have taken the lead.