08 August 2013

‘Women hold up half the sky’ – a SAHA exhibition for Women’s Month 2013

Panel 4 of the SAHA exhibition kit: "Women Hold Up Half the Sky

SAHA's exhibition kit, Women Hold up Half the Sky: Commemorating Women in the Struggle, is on display in the Women's Jail nursery courtyard at Constitution Hill, Braamfontein for Women's Month this year.

From the 1956 women's march against pass laws at which the now famous women's resistance song, Wathint'Abafazi, Wathint'Imbokodo, was sung, through stories of women activists' endurance of detention and solitary confinement under section 29 of the infamous Internal Security Act, this exhibition uses artifacts from the SAHA archives to provide a lens into the contribution and sacrifices made by women in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Leading women, including Albertina Sisulu, Helen Jospeh, Dorothy Nyembe Frene Ginwale and Ruth First, and groundbreaking organisational expressions of women organising for change, such as FEDSAW, Black Sash and the women of the UDF feature in the exhibition kit, as do the evocative struggle posters, pamphlets and stickers often created collectively and anonymously to unite women for people's power.

Gille de Vlieg's affecting images provide a glimpse of the everyday struggles faced by women during apartheid, and a multitude of documents - charters, newsletters, speeches, poems, interviews - often created by women, for women, about women's struggles and activism, speak to the triple oppression faced by black women in South Africa. 

Living in a society deeply rooted in patriarchal value systems, the journey traveled by the women of South Africa has not been an easy one. They fought, and continue to fight, against a multi-faceted gender-based discrimination from the state right down to their own homes and communities.

As the nation celebrates National Women's Day, women's voices from the archives serves as a compelling reminder of the sacrifices women have made in the making of democracy in South Africa. 

Visit the online version of this exhibition.

Learn more about SAHA portable, community exhibition kits.

Download the free education guide to using this exhibition in the classroom