The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) pays homage to women in South Africa as the country observes the National Women’s Day (August 9) and Women’s Month.
The National Women’s Day takes its cue from the 20 000 women who on 09 August 1956 marched to the seat of apartheid government in Pretoria. The purpose of the march was to protest the inhumane and degrading law which was enforcing the carrying of the repressive dompas that was meant to control women’s movements in the land of their own. That racist piece of legislation would restrict their chances of finding better avenues for employment and a better life. These brave and fearless women demonstrated their strength and courage to fight for what is right.
We celebrate and commemorate the women of 1956 and all women that fought in the struggle against colonialism and racist apartheid. Today we are confronted by racism in our schools where a racist Curro boss Shanette Tiquin called a black teacher Nonkululeko Gwatyu a monkey. These racist attacks on Nonkululeko Gwatyu and many women educators in our learning institutions must be fought with everything in us as a Union.
Shanette Tiquin is a racist who does not deserve to work within our learning institutions whether private or public because these institutions are expected to develop and empower our children with values of respect and tolerance. These institutions are assigned to develop our human resource development and advancement of social cohesion. The Curro school leadership must act decisively against this racist Shanette Tiquin and deracialise the institutions because we hold a firm view that Curro does not employ African teachers unless those it employs are there to teach African languages as if in this country, we do not have African educators in particular African women.
In taking the struggle of our heroic 1956 women, we must confront Curro, and ask PIC why public servants’ retirement funds are funding this institution while resisting to transform. In honour of our heroic 1956 women, it is an insult to say Curro must not be challenged to transform because government is not building schools. This is evidence of the depth of mental damage caused by colonialism and Verwoerd’s education system which must be confronted and be defeated. If Shanette Tiquin can have the guts to call another human a
monkey it can only confirm our view that racism is alive in Curro. In all instances of racism as alleged by either learners or educators, the leadership of Curro had denied all the allegations. We challenge them to prove their commitment to diversity and transformation and not hide behind being a private institution. This institution is governed in terms of the laws of the Republic of South Africa. It is not operating on an island and outside the laws of our country. Those who defend Curro by making lame excuses that it is a private institution must know that we are a constitutional democracy. We are living in a democracy because of the sacrifices of the 1956 women and many others.
Further, we appreciate, honour, and celebrate all South African women for the strides they make daily in their families, workplaces and in society.
Women of today continue to demonstrate that strength and resilience in many ways. The latest being the brilliant performance of women in national sports teams competing in world stages in soccer and netball despite the many challenges.
The dawn of democracy in 1994 brought to the fore the need to speed up women’s emancipation and since then numerous laws and policies have been enacted to bring about gender equality and equity. The women’s role in the struggle is being recognised, hence we celebrate this day. The new dawn enabled the recognition of labour unions such as SADTU and the union has used this to also ensure the proper recognition of women in the workplace. One of the Union’s milestones is the fight for equal pay for equal work in the public education sector. This indeed is a milestone but is not enough. Women in education constitute about 68% of the workforce and yet few are in senior positions. A recent survey carried by SADTU on members regarding the new-pot pension system has shown that female teachers and education support personnel experience financial stress the most. They carry the responsibility of raising a huge percentage of children as single parents. The struggle continues.
We celebrate this day and month under the dark cloud of increasing gender-based violence and femicide. Various bills aimed at fighting this were signed into law last year, but women and children continue to be harassed, violated, and die at the hands of men. Laws alone cannot end gender-based violence. Our criminal justice system needs resources and capacitation to fight gender-based violence and femicide. Certain cultural practices and norms that perpetuate gender stereotyping need to change to end gender-based violence.
As a union in education, we believe in the power of education in changing mindsets. We reiterate our call for a values-imbedded curriculum that promotes respect for human dignity, equality, justice, and tolerance. We believe this will go a long way towards ensuring that is we have future generations that respect and see women as equals in the home, workplaces, and communities.
Igama lamakhosikazi malibongwe!
ISSUED BY: SADTU SECRETARIAT
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157