I’m embarrassed to admit that I had to google the reason for Women’s Day today. In one of those random post party breakfast conversations this morning, someone asked why we even have a Women’s Day. It was a good question since my sister and I, together with another never-slow-to-celebrate friend, had used it as an excuse to put together an impromptu party. My husband was a great sport about the whole thing. That, or maybe he is just so used to me that he knows to resist the fun would be futile. Happy Women’s Day we wished each other! Nineteen adults, eleven children and a very late Monday night meant I felt more than a bit of an idiot when I was hazy on the details of Women’s Day. Receiving plenty of pink Women’s Day WhatsApp’s didn’t help me be any the wiser.
The breakfast crowd did come up with a bunch of reasons, but none of us said anything useful about how we came to have a Women’s Day. And none of us had a good reason for wanting to keep it, except maybe that August was a slow month for public holidays and we all needed something to look forward to. Spot the one with a headache in that conversation! But I felt a twinge of something. Maybe it was just a left over from a late night and an early morning run. Or maybe it’s simply not true when they say that being stupid only hurts those around you. Whatever, it was enough to make me google.
Maybe you already know but here it is, courtesy of Wikipedia: National Women’s Day on 9 August is a South African public holiday, and was celebrated for the first time in 1994. It commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20 000 women of all races to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to petition against South Africa’s pass laws that required South Africans defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, or pass. The pass system served to maintain population segregation, control urbanisation, and manage migrant labour during the apartheid era. The women left bundles of petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures at the office doors of Prime Minister J.G. Strijdom. The women also stood silently for 30 minutes and then started singing a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion:Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.). In the 54 years since, the phrase or its latest incarnation: “you strike a woman, you strike a rock” has come to represent women’s courage and strength.
I felt a bit better after seeing that. Only a bit better and slightly less stupid because while I had known that bit of history, somehow I had failed with the Women’s Day connection. I didn’t feel strong as rock, more like dumb as a rock. I should’ve made the effort to know ages ago.
But at least now I can with a truly clear understanding, wish you a very happy Women’s Day. To my many amazing women friends – may we always be inspired by the courage and strength shown by those women in 1956. I hope it is a day full of all that brings you joy, and may you share it with friends and family that understand all that is strong about you.
Have a great day,
PS I promise next week I will try to do Blog Monday on an actual Monday.