South African Women’s Day was celebrated in Lagos at the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos, Adewole Ajao attended an evening dedicated to the woman
The South African High Commission recently held a gala night to mark South African women’s Day. The event which held in Lagos at the Federal Palace Hotel in Victoria Island on September 26 was weeks behind the August 9 day, but it remained remarkable as the 1956 events that birthed the popular date remain evergreen.
On August 9, 1956, a resounding voice of women was heard as they staged a march in Pretoria against amendments to the Urban Areas Act of 1950.
Their efforts morphed into over a multitude of petitions with over a 100,000 signatures at the then PM J.G Strydom’s office doors and stood for 30 minutes, many with children on their backs.
They also sang a protest song composed in honour of the occasion. It spurred a turning point in South African history. Their tune, “you strike a woman, you strike a rock” has become a symbol of female strength.
The evening was graced by the High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria J.N.K Mamabalo, Counselor Political of the South African High Commission in Lagos Thandi Mgxwati, Lagos State Special Adviser to the governor on tourism Ranti Alebiosu and others.
For Mamabalo the celebration of another edition was worth all the noise as it rekindled a historical moment whose effects had trickled down the present era.
“I m very happy that we’re here and deciding to have this as a tradition. Every year in Lagos we’ve been celebrating women and this is a testimony to what women can do. We’ll ensure that Nigeria and South African women join hands in pursuing similar strategies and eliminating common struggles.”
Apart from the usual festivities, the event, which is commemorated as National Women’s Day also, has constructive programmes that address the challenges women face in society.
So the month of August is used to push such programmes aimed at further empowering and advancing the cause of women. One of these was the “Take a Girl Student to Work”.
The realisation that women issues are not common to just South African shores saw a Nigerian version in partnership with the Lagos State Government and the University of Lagos. For three years in succession, the public/private partnership has benefitted women in the push for a common goal. Mgxwathi added that
“Take a Girl-Student to Work” is meant to expose women to a future and encourage participation in the power sector. Despite advances in legislation there is still a big gap.
Women are under-represented and there are other challenges like HIV/AIDS. This event reminds us that we need a deeper interaction with each other. Let us work for other collaborations.”
Beneficiaries of the recently-ended training were also on ground to give thanks to the organisers who allowed them training with firms like South African Airways, MultiChoice, Silverbird Galleria, Topcomm, Protea Hotels, Chain Reactions Nigeria, the Lagos State Government and other notable companies.
According to TOPCOMM, being part of the initiative was a delightful experience. The representative of the marketing company went further to say,
“It is one sure idea that exposes female undergraduates to a brief experience of the workplace and showcases the practical of what they were taught in class and even more.
Although, the time is short for any significant impact, but it gives an overall leeway on what to engage in after school years. So the SAHC must be commemorated for the wonderful initiative.”
Chain Reactions Ltd was another firm that trained women during the programme. For its Chief strategist Israel Opayemi, the initiative was long overdue as it filled a societal void.
“This initiative is particularly important because we respect women and feel that empowerment, particularly of the girl child, will greatly enhance the future of woman as cradle bearers,” he said.
“In country where the level of unemployment is quite high and workplace knowledge acquisition for students is low, ensuring they are that these students are exposed to the work environment early will help them in making informed career decisions about career choice and path after their tertiary education.”