There is not much to celebrate for South African women this Women’s Day.

These were the sentiments echoed by dignitaries at the official Women’s Day event at Embekweni Stadium in the Western Cape on Thursday.

Hundreds of South Africans, mainly women, braved the cold conditions and thronged to the rugby stadium in Paarl to commemorate the iconic march to the Union Buildings by approximately 20 000 women in 1956 — who were armed with petitions protesting the country’s then cruel pass laws.

“Shockingly, inequalities against women and the girl child are still accepted, maintained and mainstreamed in 2018. If we are to attain equality, we need to prioritise the challenging, dismantling and transformation of systematic, institutional and ideological patriarchy that still legitimises the oppression of women and the girl child,” said a passionate Western Cape MEC for cultural affairs and sport, Anroux Marais.

“We [women] are still dealing with domestic violence, sexual harassment, unequal pay and the denial of a decent education,” highlighted Green.

Minister of women in the presidency, Bathabile Dlamini warned men in South Africa to listen and accept what want without retaliating.

“When a woman says I don’t want, it means she doesn’t want. When women say they don’t love you any more it means exactly that.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa — who had a torrid start to his address after a group of women disrupted proceedings carrying placards calling on him to sign a moratorium on evictions, among other things — also agreed that “the struggle for women’s emancipation had to continue.

“Our efforts to build a society defined by dignity, equality and respect are incomplete. Poverty, hunger, landlessness are still the order of the day and women face inequality, prejudice, discrimination and exploitation,” said Ramaphosa.

The only light at the end of the tunnel, according to most of the speakers, lay in the fact that women came together, demanded and attained freedom from inhuman pass laws.