People have started gathering at the Union Buildings ahead of Women’s Day commemorations on Tuesday expected to be addressed by President Jacob Zuma.

This year’s event marks the 60th anniversary of the 1956 women’s march to the Union Buildings against the discriminatory pass laws, which had restricted the movement of black people in the country.

Sixty years later, the day started with the launch of the Women’s Living Heritage Monument at Lilian Ngoyi Square in the Pretoria CBD. The monument tells the story of women’s contribution to the liberation struggle.

That was followed by a parade from the square to the Union Buildings, following in the footsteps of the women’s march and celebrating achievements of women in all sectors.

The official programme will be at the Union Buildings’ South Lawns led by Susan Shabangu, the minister in the presidency responsible for women, and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

The Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, will make remarks, as will the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

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Shabangu said it was important for all South Africans to celebrate their history. She also noted that more women cast their ballots during last week’s local government elections.

“More women came out to vote because they are the one who realise and recognise that it’s so important for the women to come together,” she said.

Shabangu added that government would be focusing on ensuring that the fight to stop the abuse of women was accelerated.

“This is one area where we are gonna have a major focus. We are going to have national dialogues going to all corners of South Africa making sure we engage men. We need to understand: How do we change our society, what is it that goes into the mind of the man?” said Shabangu.

President Jacob Zuma is expected to deliver the keynote address later in the day.