COSATU celebrates International Women’s Day

08 March 2024

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) joins other progressive organisations celebrating International Women’s Day today.  This is a moment to honour the sacrifices billions of women make every day for their families and societies. It is a chance to reflect on the hardships women and girls experience daily, in particular in working class communities.  It is an opportunity to reflect on the battles the trade union movement, including COSATU, have won in the struggles for women’s liberation and most importantly to rededicate ourselves in the wars still to be waged.

COSATU is pleased with the many gains we have been able to collectively achieve as a nation since 1994, from our progressive Constitution and various labour and other laws that protect the rights of women and girls and advance the broader causes of gender rights.  We are proud that we have firmly shifted the notion that a women’s place is confined to the kitchen and other forms of subservience to leading the nation from the very highest positions in government, the state and economy. 

The Federation has welcomed the continual progress we have made not only in 1994, but also more recently, including the increase in maternity leave payments to new mothers, the inclusion of still born births and third trimester miscarriages under maternity leave and paid parental and adoption leave as well as legalising same sex marriages and protections.

Whist we correctly celebrate our many victories including in 2021 the strengthening of our criminal laws to deal with the cancer of gender-based violence and sexual harassment at the workplace, we cannot remain complacent or proud when half of South African women and girls will experience the most horrific forms of GBV in their homes, communities, schools, universities and workplaces. 

Though we are pleased with the many advances we have made in law, in budgets and across workplaces, much more remains to be done.  The Federation welcomed the recent court judgement directing Parliament to amend our labour laws to ensure an equal distribution of parental leave between mothers and fathers.  We intend tabling proposals at Nedlac and Parliament to ensure these are effected and maternity leave strengthened.

COSATU remains committed to showing solidarity with women and girls who are subjected to even worse forms of violence and other conditions, from the wars in Palestine, Congo and Haiti and other conflict zones, to human rights violations in Zimbabwe and eSwatini, the illegal sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela and the occupation of Western Sahara.  The Federation will continue to raise these and other interventions to defend and improve the conditions of women and girls at the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations and other critical forums.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687