Durban - President Jacob Zuma received applause and cheers when he called on fathers to pay their maintenance on time at the Women's Day celebrations at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban on Saturday.
“We appeal to the working parents, especially the fathers, to support their children without the involvement of the courts.”
Zuma said mothers needed to receive their maintenance on time, “instead of making women wait for the money”.
He said that payment could be made electronically and there was no reason for payments not to be made.
Zuma said many strides had been made to emancipate women, but that more needed to be done.
He said that government had made big strides in employing women and supported women in becoming entrepreneurs.
He said that much progress had been made in the workforce, but that “remnants of unfair practices still exist in the workforce.
There was much singing and ululating from the women, most of whom were wearing ANC Women's League uniforms or ANC T-shirts emblazoned with Zuma's portrait.
Earlier, ANCWL president Angie Motshekga said that much has been achieved since the advent of democracy in 1994, but that much more needed to be achieved to bring gender equality.
“Some of the problems identified 60 years ago still persist. A girl child must not walk with that fear that there is a rapist behind her.” She said that while constitutionally the rights of women were protected, there needed more to be done in achieving gender equality on the ground.
Security was tight at the stadium with snipers visible on top of the main stand of the stadium as the equestrian unit of the eThekwini metro police patrolled the outskirts of the stadium.
There were several performances by numerous bands and groups that sung and danced.
Numerous buses arrived with singing women emanating from them.
Members of the ANC Women's League were bussed in from as far afield as Koffiefntein and Bethulie in the Free State.
A women, who identified herself as Kate, complained that she had not been given food or water since boarding the bus from Koffiefontein.
Police also had strict control over the Mangosuthu Highway as they controlled traffic.
However, the festivities were marred by an early accident at the entrance to the highway where police were clearing an accident that had claimed the life of one man.
On this day in 1956 around 20 000 women participated in a national march to protest against pass law legislation, which required non-white South Africans to carry a document on them to prove that they were allowed to enter “white areas”.
Women of all races and ages from all corners of the country marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The march was organised by the Federation of South African Women (Fedsaw) and led by Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophie Williams and Lilian Ngoyi.
This year's festivities were held under the theme: “20 years of democracy: Moving women's agenda forward through socio-economic transformation”. - Sapa