The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa
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Women's Day, 9 August 2022

Posted: 2022-07-19 15:00

“We, the women of South Africa, have come here today. We represent and we speak on behalf of hundreds of thousands of women who could not be with us. But all over the country, at this moment, women are watching and thinking of us. Their hearts are with us. We are women from every part of South Africa. We are women of every race. We come from the cities and the towns, from the reserves and the villages. We come as women united in our purpose to save the African women from the degradation of passes.” – Excerpt from the petition presented to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956.

Today we remember the South African women of who stood together on 9 August 1956, against an unjust society, to fight laws that not only affected women in South Africa, but all people of colour. They sent a clear message of the courage and strength of South African women who refused to be silenced or have their freedom taken away by unjust laws. Women’s day is a reminder of the ongoing struggle for gender equality, a woman’s right to live free from violence and discrimination, to be educated, and to earn a fair and equal wage. It is also a celebration and recognition of the exceptional contribution that women make to the South African economic, cultural, political, social and economic landscape.

The CMSA is committed to transformation

Transformation in terms of race, gender, and organizational culture is continuously evolving in the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) and our current Senate is the most transformed in the CMSA’s 65-year history. The Senate of the CMSA is its highest decision-making body. Two thirds of Senators are black, and the current Senate has a record number of women Senators elected by their peers from the CMSA’s 29 Constituent Colleges. Twenty one of sixty Senators are women. Professor Flavia Senkubuge, Immediate Past President of the CMSA was the third woman, and the first black female President elected. Two of the four CMSA Executive Managers are women and our Academic Registrar, Mrs Yolokazi Kanzi, is the first black woman Executive. Of the eight managers in the CMSA, seven are women and five are black women. In the medical profession, women are entering previously male dominated medical specialties and in 2021, 1573 of the 2336 candidates who passed the CMSA Examinations were women, with 702 of those being black women.

On the 9th of August each year, we honour the memory of four women and their 20 000 followers who breached social and racial barriers to take a stand against the oppression of all South African women. The reverberation of their actions still echoes through society today. “I am reminded that I follow in the footsteps of giants who went before me and who paved the path to ensure that I can stand where I am today,” said Prof Senkubuge. “The CMSA has come a very long way and my appointment as its President is one of the organization’s biggest milestones. I recognize this fact whenever I am afforded the opportunity to do so, because it is important, and because representation matters. My appointment moved forward the needle on the CMSA’s transformation agenda.

‘Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo’ (You Strike a woman, You Strike a Rock)

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