Building Women’s Power in Struggle

The Abahlali baseMjondolo Women’s League will be joining the women of South Africa to honour and celebrate our heroes who fought against racism and pass laws in 1956. They did so for all of us today, and they did so courageously and exceptionally. We will be celebrating this day by reclaiming and asserting our right to this land. We will be celebrating this day by building the power of women from below. We will be celebrating this day by building awareness, political and economic consciousness, unity and solidarity. And yes, we will be celebrating the Interim Court Interdict we have just been granted by the Durban High Court last week.

The struggle continues. Today the women in Abahlali face new forms of oppression, new forms of exclusion, new form of tribalism and black on black hatred. Today many of the old forms of oppression remain and the new oppressor is as black as us. The new oppressor is one who has been oppressed with all of us but who has become the ”better oppressor’ as Steve Biko warned. Today we suffer exclusion from the very hard won democracy. Today we suffer impoverishment. Today we suffer unemployment. Today we suffer inequalities. Today we suffer violent repression, including torture and murder. And yes, today we suffer landlessness and homelessness and indignity. We continue to suffer in the name of democracy and a ”better life for all that serves the interest of the few while the majority of us still live in abject poverty in shacks and transit camps.

We are still told that the place of a women remains in the kitchen. When we raise our voice in resistance of corruption and oppression we are shot and killed. Today impoverished women also suffer from the rich, sometimes middle class women and women in powerful positions of power, including women in the ruling party, women in some NGOs and women who are also bosses.

Women’s power is at the heart of our movement and its strength and it has been at the heart of the struggles for urban land and housing for more than a hundred years. Our movement stands for the full equality of women in the struggle and in society. We stand against all forms of discrimination and abuse. We stand for a world in which women are safe and respected in their homes, in the streets, in their struggles and at work.

Our movement does all it can to build women’s power. Our theme for this day is “Women Can Do It”. On Saturday and Sunday this week we will hold two days of training with around fifty women focussing on livelihoods. This will also be an opportunity to share skills and experience on gender issues, housing rights, movement building and emancipatory politics. On Wednesday, 9 August, we will hold our Women’s League AGM at the Surat Hindu Hall in Prince Edward Street, starting at 10:00 a.m. We have invited women from Safety Regulator, the Right to Know Campaign and other progressive organised women’s groups. The day will be full of celebration by the Abahlali Women’s Choir, Stars of Tomorrow, dance and other powerful poets and music. Entertainment plays a very important part of our struggle as it helps us deal with emotions of oppression of our time.

Wa tint’ abafazi, wa tint’ imbokodo.

A woman’s place is in the struggle.


Zandile Nsibande on 062 947 1947

Thabile Makhoba 076 805 3282

Blessing Nyuswa 084 695 3205