COSATU National Women’s Day Statement

The Federation of workers joins millions of South Africans to commemorate the National Women’s Day in honour of the heroic women who confronted the apartheid government on that historic day in 1956. This is a day when we are reminded that the women of South Africa are not just the architects of our democracy, but they have shaped the history of our country in a meaningful way.

On this day, we remember the past victories and also reflect on the current challenges facing women in this country and around the world. COSATU is confronted and dealing with inequality, discrimination, violation, and abuse of women every day on the shopfloor and in broader society.

The economic crisis affecting South Africa is hitting women the hardest. Female workers earn approximately 30% less, on average, than their male colleagues. The country is reeling from the devastation of the COVID-19 and recent riots. During both these crises jobs have been lost and women have been affected the most.

The neglected informal sector that has been just as badly hit by COVID-19, employs higher percentages of women compared to the formal sector? The experiences of women workers in the South Africa of 2021 are scornful of the year of Charlotte Maxeke and the Realising Women’s Rights and the hopes of the Beijing Platform of Action.

The Generation Equality Paris summit has emerged with ‘concrete, ambitious and transformative actions to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality’, but will it be the same in South Africa? GBV is ravaging women at home, at work, in places of worship, in education-there is no safe place for SA women.

We find it deeply troubling that our democratic government is very lackadaisical in ratifying ILO Convention 190 on the ‘Elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work’.

This unacceptable conduct indirectly enables the anti-worker, homophobic and misogynistic tendencies by not taking the issue of violence and harassment in the world of work seriously.

We do not expect this to be done by a people’s government that has just emerged from the shackles of legalised political exploitation and oppression.

This country is sinking under the weight of Gender Based Violence in the world of work that affects all working people, but mainly women. It is telling that the COVID Regulations, World Cup legislation were all done speedily by the people’s government. But there is an indifferent attitude to hate crimes against working women, men and LGBTQIA.

Today we remember Pinkie who was raped and killed in a mine shaft, Thembisile who was killed and hidden in an Eskom power station for days, the flight attendant who has been killed recently in the Eastern Cape for being a member of the LGBTQIA community, the woman educator who was shot and killed in front of her children because she dared to become a Deputy Principal of a KZN High School. We remember Cynthia Setuke killed and found on a conveyor belt in a mine.

South Africa needs to learn from our neighbour Namibia where their government has swiftly moved to ratify this Convention! We demand ratification of ILO C190 NOW!

COSATU is calling for more activism amongst women and all gender activists across the gender lines to bring genuine equality, socio-economic justice, GBV eradication and gender peace for women.

Let 2021 mark an even more heroic stand by all in the fight for equality and in defense of women of South Africa. COSATU is calling on our government to stand up and be counted for the women’s cause, and the private sector needs to stand up and play an active role to ensure we have genuine gender equality in the country.

Forward with Gender Equality!

Phambili Nomzabalazo Wamakhosikazi Phambili!

Long the Spirit of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, Long Live!

Issued by COSATU

Gertrude Mtsweni (cde)

National Gender Co-Ordinator /COSATU House|110 Jorissen Street

CNR Simmonds Street |Johannesburg 2017

Tel: 010 219 1322

Mobile: 082 829 2966



Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Cell: 060 975 6794