SANDF celebrates nurturers of our society
By: Cpl Ally Rakoma
On 9 August 1956, thousands of women converged on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to hand over petitions signed by women from all over the country demanding an end to the Urban Areas Act, commonly known as the pass laws.
Every year since then, 9 August has been remembered as a very special day in our country’s calendar to remember and honour the 20 000 heroines who took action and who came together to strive for a society free of all kinds of discrimination and inequality.
On 24 August 2012, the Chief Directorate Transformation Management hosted the second annual SANDF Women’s day parade at the Thaba Tshwane Military Sports Ground to celebrate our military diversity and pay homage to the country’s women who died in past struggles and to remember the sacrifice, commitment, dedication and unity in action of the women of 1956.
The theme of this year’s celebration was: “Women unite in fighting inequality”.
Addressing the gathering and about four hundred (400) female soldiers on parade, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, pointed out the significant strides made in the SANDF, commended the role of women in the DOD and applauded the important role of the amazing SANDF women soldiers deployed internally and externally in peacekeeping missions who go beyond their normal call of duty, something that has been acknowledged by the United Nations (UN) Department of Peacekeeping Office.
Minister Mapisa-Nqakula told the gathering that there are very few women at the highest level of the command structure. “Although women have risen to various senior positions, including as heads of units, we still have very little presence at the highest level of commanding structure of the Defence Force. I commit myself to elevating women into positions of command”, she pledged.
She said that the Women’s Day parade served to celebrate and acknowledge the progress made by our Defence Force in promoting the contribution of women within the military. It also offered an appropriate occasion to reflect on the current situation.
She pointed out that female members of the Force deployed beyond the borders of the country were not provided with amenities for their special needs, including provision for privacy and sanitary requirements.
She mentioned that over recent years, the SANDF had, in naming its fleet of naval vessels and submarines after heroines made a deliberate choice of these women who led by example. “These brave women who left us a legacy of the true meaning of courage, sacrifice and determination and are an example we should emulate. Amongst these are Charlotte Maxeke, Lillian Ngoyi, Ruth First and Victoria Mxenge.
Our heroic women in the SANDF, have generally impacting positively on the lives of ordinary women and the girls in our country and beyond. At the end of the parade, young female pupils from four local primary schools marched behind the two platoons of women soldiers deployed externally.