Women’s Day in South Africa is widely celebrated and today, 9 August, 2019, we reflect on the bold steps that have been taken by our magnificent ladies since the iconic Women’s March to the Union Buildings in Pretoria back in 1956.

We have come a long way since that era, though, when women fought against the legislation regarding the government’s control over the movement of black women in urban areas. Today, women have a more of a voice in society and can openly talk about real issues they face through traditional and social media platforms.

Not only are women taking charge of voicing themselves in communities, but they have also stood up and have become pioneers in every aspect in society. It has been 24 years since the first celebration of this day took place in 1995 and we have seen the successes of women rise, although there are still challenges to face along the way.

On this beautiful national holiday, gsport had the privilege of speaking to some incredible South African women who have gone above and beyond all challenges to show their prowess across the spectrum.

One netball great believes the national team’s historic fourth place finish at the Netball World Cup has inspired many:

On the back of the extra-ordinary performance by the Spar Proteas at the Netball World in Liverpool in July I believe every woman is inspired to believe that Impossible is nothing. When as women we stand together and build each other up we can only do great exploits. We don’t need easy, all we want is possible. #Happywomensday – Former SPAR Proteas captain, Zanele Mdodana

For one incredible lady, Women’s Day remains a special day in her heart as she previously won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

“Women’s Day will always be special to me and for all the women in South Africa because that’s when I did win my bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012. So, I think that the message that I’ll give everyone is to always believe that something amazing is about to happen.” Olympic athlete, Brigitte Hartley

While, Brigitte is dominating the waters and gearing to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the canoeing category, on the soccer field, Desiree Ellis guided the South African national women’s team to their first FIFA Women’s World Cup this year and currently, the former national player has been able to steer her girls to their third consecutive final appearance in the COSAFA Women’s Championship tournament and she has encouraged women to stand side-by-side to create a better future for all females in the country.

“Let’s work together and support each other for a better future for women in sport in South Africa. You are special and know that it’s true. Happy Women’s Day to all the incredible women.” Banyana Banyana Head Coach, Desiree Ellis.

A lot of respect and credit goes out to these beautiful women who have defied all odds and grabbed the bull by the horns to ensure that females across the board have a better future and Lwandile Simelane has gone above and beyond to give young girls the opportunity to participate in hockey and to make the sport more accessible around the country.

“The year may not be 1956, but even today the spirit of female strength remains a central feature of our country. Today we celebrate those who stood up against a painful system and those who continue to stand against the many factors that try to keep imbokodo down. Happy Women’s Day to all women of South Africa and women in sports in particular.” – South African Hockey Vice President and SASCOC Board member, Lwandile Simelane.

They say dynamites come in small packages and Simphiwe Dludlu is a testament to that statement. The South African women’s national soccer Under-20 head coach went from dominating on the playing field, to leading and moulding young girls for the future. She believes that women should rise above all expectations and embrace their expertise.

“A woman is expected to follow all the time, I say you can rise above expectations. You’re the only person that change how people perceive you. The biggest mistake is to think you need permission to excel, so change your mindset and embrace your prowess, get up today and know the world needs your valued input. Happy Women’s Day #WoMandla.” – Basetsana Head Coach, Simphiwe Dludlu.

As the fight continues to ensure gender equality in South Africa, it is vital that we celebrate how far we have come and women remain as the glue that keeps everyone together, just like Mapaseka Makhanya who has been a rock for her family.

“A woman, unshakable throughout the most toughest seasons she goes through. Just like a rock, she remains strong, so that those who are going through storms may lean on her. Happy Women’s Day.” – Mother and renowned SA athlete, Mapaseka Makhanya.

It has always been a continuous battle for women who find themselves in the thick of it all, especially looking to express themselves among their male counterparts. Akhona Makalima, a referee in the Premier Soccer League has battled against gender biasness but has stood firm to make her dream come true on the football field.

“#PassItOn: This SA National Women’s Day, let us all women be reminded to love and appreciate ourselves more and pass it on, celebrate ourselves, empower ourselves, protect ourselves and also respect ourselves. If we can do all of this for ourselves then we will be able to pass it on to the next person. Let us remind ourselves that we can, and we will, and we are able. Happy Women’s Day, you are shining. We are role models!” – South African female referee, Akhona Makalima

Para-athlete, Palesa ‘Deejay’ Manaleng, who is a complete paraplegic with no stomach muscles and the use of her legs, has through pure ambition and determination worked her way into competing in sports at an international level and remains as a pioneer from all athletes suffering with disabilities.

“Happy Women’s Day. May the wind carry your dreams and remember that with every uphill there is a downhill, so don’t give up on your dreams.” – Para-athlete, Palesa ‘Deejay’ Manaleng.

From gsport, we would like to wish every woman in South Africa a Happy Women’s Day. Let us all continue to uplift, support and encourage one another.

 

Photo 1 Caption: Para-athlete Palesa Manaleng pictured smiling after winning the national H3 paracycling title in the South African Road Championships title, in Pretoria during February this year. Photo: Lezanne Bruwer

Photo 2 Caption: Euro Steel star Bridgitte Hartley pictured showing her incredible diversity as she claimed the win in the women’s race at race one of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series on Friday, 6 January. Photo: Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

Photo 3 Caption: Banyana Banyana head coach, Desiree Ellis at the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Championship in Port Elizabeth after a record-breaking 17-0 victory against Comoros on Wednesday, 31 July, 2019. Photo: SAFA media