Women march for equality in Cape Town

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Interfaith leaders lead the marchers as the 10th Arstcape Women's Humanity Arts Festival Walk from the Slave Lodge to Artscape gets underway.

Interfaith leaders lead the marchers as the 10th Arstcape Women's Humanity Arts Festival Walk from the Slave Lodge to Artscape gets underway.

CAPE TOWN – A group of women gathered inside the courtyard at the Iziko Slave Lodge in Cape Town on Tuesday, before they marched for women’s rights.

An apt place to meet on the 60th anniversary of Women’s Day and a place to begin the 10th Artscape Women’s Humanity Arts Festival Walk.

The Slave Lodge, one of the oldest buildings in South Africa, served as the stage for several interfaith leaders who spoke about the importance of equality, gender and women’s rights.

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The audience, which included a few men and young boys, learnt a few things about the history of the building and how the women’s march is about humanity and embracing one another.

Artscape CEO Marlene le Roux asked for a moment of silence to honour the many women who gave their lives 60 years ago for the future women have today, and for women’s rights. Recalling how the festival started 10 years ago as an idea in their homes, le Roux said the festival and the march “is not about us, it is about understanding each other”.

She said it was about taking that initiative to lead, to go forward and to ensure there was access to education, to schools and so much more for women. She said policies should not remain only on paper, they should be implemented.

She called on all the women marching to “walk with someone you don’t know.” The march, she said, was about “crossing the divide”. Le Roux said it was about communities crossing the divides that divided them from each other in their lives and getting to know one another.

“Walk the walk to be the change,” she said.

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Different organisations joined the walk, including the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, Union of Jewish Women and the International Women’s Peace Group.

A lot of Amandlas and responses of Awethu interjected the air as le Roux led the audience outside the Slave Lodge building to the street where they would march to Artscape.

Le Roux said anyone who could not walk very well could ride with her on the Shweshwe bakkie.

Caorl Gwandure, a young jewellery designer and manufacturing student told African News Agency (ANA) that she joined the march because it was important to “empower other women and remind them that they do have rights”.

She said Women’s Day was all about celebrating women. Aware of the history around the march, Gwandure said: “Women today have a different world than before, with many opportunities and second chances. They are empowered to do many things for the first time.”

Retina South Africa chairperson Manny Moodley said he and his team were marching in support of Women’s Day and for people with retinal degenerative disease and those who were visually impaired.

“It is important for us to be part of this march as we are marching for the rights of the disabled, women and children,” he said.

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Angeline Cloete, an elderly woman who finds it hard to walk after an incident in a factory said she was at the march to support women’s rights, peace and human rights. She said while a lot has been achieved, “more needs to be done”.

Cloete said people who did not have jobs should be employed.

“Women have the acumen, but they are not able to display this in the workplace because they are not given the chance,” she said.

Cloete said she would like to see this gender bias change significantly.