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Economic Empowerment is theme of this year's National Women's Day

8/10/2011, 1:05 p.m.

Aug. 9 (GIN)- Reeling from the world economic crisis and the nation's failure to create new jobs, the South African government has dedicated this year's National Women's Day to economic empowerment for women.

At the commemoration, held Tuesday at Polokwane's Mokaba Stadium, the ruling African National Congress party expressed "great concern" over the slow pace of empowering African women in the workplace. African women account for only 0.8 percent of those at the top management level.

Other speakers said it has been an uphill battle since apartheid was dismantled in 1990. "I want my children to know that our past violent society left permanent scars and that the future is in building social cohesion in a society still divided on racial, sexual, ethnic and class lines...and where violence against the 'other' is still prevalent," wrote Thoko Mpumlwana, deputy chair of the Electoral Commission of South Africa, in a recent column in Gender Links.

"I want my kids to 'imagine' and work towards a non-racial and non-sexist society. Patriarchy lives and its effect is felt by women of South Africa every day," she observed.

National Women's Day honors the 20,000 South African women who marched on the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956 to protest the hated pass laws of the racist apartheid regime.

A song composed for the occasion, "Wathinkt'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo!" ("You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock") has become an anthem for women in South Africa and beyond.

In a related development, ANC youth league leader Julius Malema has paid a $7,000 fine to a women's group over "hate speech," as ordered by the Equality Court.

Malema was sued by the Sonke Gender Justice Group for saying that a woman who had charged President Jacob Zuma with rape had a "nice time" with him.