Media statement by the Minister Lulu Xingwana at a briefing on the Department’s Women’s Month Programme of Activities, Rosebank Hotel, Johannesburg

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03 Aug 2010

Programme Director
Ladies and gentlemen

I have pleasure to announce a number of events that our department will host during Women’s Month. Since time immemorial, women have always played a central role in the socio-economic development of society. In 1956 in South Africa 20 000 women led by Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophie de Bruyn, made an immense contribution to our struggle when they came together, both black and white, to show solidarity against the pass laws. Through their actions, they helped to lay the foundations for the building of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic country. It is for that reason that our democratic government has declared August as Women’s Month.

During this month we commemorate the historic struggles and sacrifices of South African women, who helped bring democracy and opportunities for all.  Through this commemoration, we should reaffirm the role that women can play in advancing society towards achieving a better life for all.

Our freedom is not complete until women are free from all forms of abuse, poverty and deprivation. As we celebrate Women’s Month, we should renew our pledge to build a non-racial, non-sexist, united, democratic and prosperous South Africa as envisioned in our Constitution.

Therefore, we want to take this opportunity to call upon all sectors of society to unite in a national effort for the empowerment and advancement of women.

As a national government department we have initiated a number of activities, a programme of action for Women’s Month, some of which I am highlighting today:


Shanghai World Exhibition

South Africa is participating in the Shanghai World Exhibition which started in May and will end in October this year. Our department has developed a six month programme which includes the Beautiful Things Exhibition, artist demonstrations, archives exhibition, and cultural performances.

In terms of the expo programme, each participating country is allocated a national day. South Africa has decided to celebrate its national day on 09 August, which is Women’s Day on our national calendar.

As part of the celebrations of our national day, we will hoist the South African flag.

Most importantly, prominent female artists will perform at the event. These artists include Debra Fraser, Loveline Madumo, Sibongile Khumalo, and Thandiswa Mazwai.

The Dulcie September Memorial Lecture

I am glad to announce that on 19 August 2010, we will, in partnership with the University of the Western Cape, host a memorial lecture in honour of one of the struggle icons, Ms Dulcie Septembe,r who died in exile in during apartheid.

Through this lecture the government acknowledges her contribution towards the liberation of the people of South Africa and the enormous personal sacrifices she made during her life.

As part of this process of memorialisation, a lecture will be delivered by Ms Margaret Busby. Ms Busby is an award-winning writer, editor, critic, consultant and broadcaster. Other speakers at the lecture include Dr John Daniel, a researcher from the Human Sciences Research Council and Ambassador Barbara Masekela.

Declaration of Women’s Graves as Heritage Sites

As part of our national legacy projects for honouring the forgotten and unsung heroines of the liberation struggle, the Department together with the South African Heritage Resources Agency will on 20 August 2010 in Soweto declare as national heritage sites the graves of struggle icons Charlotte Maxeke, Lillian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph.

The programme will include a church service, unveiling of site plaques and speeches.

Launch of the Sarah Bartmann Centre of Remembrance Architectural Concept Design

In order to reaffirm the marginalized history, heritage and culture of the Khoi and San people and to recognise their contribution to our liberation struggle, we will unveil the Sarah Bartmann Centre of Remembrance Architectural Concept Design on 22 August in Hankey, Eastern Cape Province.

The concept design process was managed and administered by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. As a cultural institution, the centre will provide interpretative space in memory of the life of Sarah Bartmann. Most importantly, the centre will serve as a repository of the heritage of the Khoi and San.


Women Writers’ Symposium

We will host a women writers’ symposium under the theme: Women’s words: African worlds: renewing a dialogue between African women writers and women of African descent.

The symposium will take place from 25-26 August 2010 at the Windybrow Theatre and Museum Africa. As we have said, the Windybrow is being transformed into a pan-African centre of excellence in the arts.

Therefore, in the main the symposium is aimed at bringing together African women writers to engage in a dialogue about African women’s writing.

The symposium will also encourage the emergence of a Pan African women’s voice and continent-wide projects to strengthen women’s role in the literary arts.

The main themes of the symposium are as follows:

  • Dreams, dialogues and realities: fictional voices;
  • Languages of living realities;
  • Writing the Self and others: biographical and autobiographical voices (life writing)
  • Narrating nationhood;
  • No newsroom of my own: journalistic and editorial voices, and
  • We are all Africans! A continental dialogue towards the formation of an African Women Writers’ Network.

Invited writers include Tsitsi Dangarembga of Zimbabwe, Lola Shoneyin of Nigeria, Shailja Patel of Kenya as well as our own literary greats such as Lauretta Ngcobo, Miriam Tlali and Elinor Sisulu.


Concert celebrating Women’s achievements

We shall mark the end of Women’s Month through holding a concert featuring women artists. We are planning to hold this event on the 29th August in honour of women artists and to thank them for the critical role they have played during 2010 World Cup. We have invited prominent South African women musicians to be part of this musical extravaganza to be held in Gauteng. The line-up of artists amongst others includes Siphokazi, Abigail Kubheka, Dorothy Masuka, Thandi Klassen and Mahothella Queens.

In conclusion, as I have indicated earlier, these are simply some of our projects – our programme in Shanghai also extends to October. In addition, during the month of August, there are also other projects spearheaded by women and that are promoting art by women that we are also championing.

And we look forward to a very productive women’s month where together we can celebrate the achievements of women in the arts and show their unique contribution through the arts to our social, cultural and economic development.

Thank you.


Media enquiries: Mack Lewele on 082 450 50 76