I N AUGUST each year our country marks Women’s Month. As eThekwi ni Municipality, we join the rest of South Africa in paying trib ute to more than 20 000 strong women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 to protest the exten sion of pass laws to women. The theme of this year’s Women’s Month is “Generation Equity: Realising Women’s Rights for an equal future”. This year’s celebrations are commemorated against the backdrop of the devastating floods in April and May that negatively impacted on the City’s economy with many lives also being lost. As eThekwini, this is not just another event on the calendar. The month of August holds special significance to residents. Exactly 37 years ago, on 1 August 1985 a woman of special character who was a prolific anti-Apartheid activist Victoria Mxenge was assassinated in uMlazi. Together with her husband Griffiths, they paid a hefty price for defending the rights of the oppressed.
The Mxenge’s were an apt embodiment of freedom, justice, and peace and it is unfortunate that they did not live to see the realisation of what they were fighting for. Together with the provincial government, we have taken the decision to erect sculptures of the Mxenges at the entrance of uMlazi. These sculptures are a constant reminder to every woman and girl in eThekwini that they should not rest on their laurels as the generation of stalwarts from Victoria Mxenge’s era have passed on the baton to them.
It is now in their hands to complete the race of realising women’s rights for an equal future. According to a census, 40 percent of households in eThekwini are headed by women. To empower them economically, the Municipality has established the Women Economic Empowerment programme. The Municipality has invested over R1.5 million annually in the programme to breach the industry gaps in male dominated sectors and to avail equal opportunities to females through capacity building and mentorship for women in business. Women are also the biggest beneficiaries of the Durban Fashion Fair (DFF) Development Programme, where 70 percent of beneficiaries are women.
In an effort to enhance the skills of young female farmers to enable and empower them to create jobs, our Agribusiness programme offers opportunities for cooperatives, many of which are owned by women, to participate in farming production including poultry and vegetables. The Municipality assists with infrastructure development, mentorship, and access to market. Happy Women’s Month!