Back in 1956, on the 9th of August, more than 20 000 women of all races descended upon Pretoria’s Union Buildings to present a petition against the carrying of passes.
The march was organised by the Federation of South African Women, who challenged the idea that "a woman’s place is in the kitchen", and declaring that women belong "everywhere".
That was an epic moment in South African and the world’s history.
Today, the people of Mzansi will celebrate this ground-breaking moment we call National Women’s Day - which was first celebrated as a public holiday in 1995.
And in honour of those women, and all the heroines walking the planet, the African Pride Fighting Championship (APFC) - a charity-focused combat sports promotion - will tonight showcase 10 Women’s Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing and Muay Thai fights in Cape Town.
“We are raising funds for Rape Crisis as well as for SAME Foundation,” says event organiser and fighter, Jessica Mouneimne.
Jessica has been running the APFC for the last seven years now with her husband and renowned combat coach - Mike Mouneimne.
“Every single woman on the fight card will have a story to tell about sexual harassment, abuse or assault and so raising funds for Rape Crisis is so close to all our hearts. SAME Foundation does a lot of work with Khayelitsha Hospital and funds from this event will go towards beds in the women’s psychiatric ward,” says Jessica.
According to Jessica, the event - an all women’s fight card for National Women’s Day - is the first of its kind. “We have also joined forces with a burlesque dance group called Ménage À Trois, they will be performing classic burlesque throughout the evening.
“It was important to me that this event appeals to a wider audience than the usual combat-sports crowd and that it had a feminine energy about it. This event aims to showcase women of all races and body types standing in their power celebrating their strength and their sensuality while raising awareness and funds for two worthy causes,” adds Jessica who will be headlining the event as a MMA fighter against Heike Hersleman.
“Celebrating women in combat sports means exposing it to the masses. I would like to see more women in SA taking up combat sports and essentially competing on the fight scene.
“Combat Sports, in particular Brazilian jiu-jitsu literally saved my life and helped me overcome addiction. When I’m in the gym, I have a purpose and I’m free and when I’m outside the gym I know I have an advantage over other women who are untrained from a self-defence perspective and these are the two main reasons that I want to open combat sports to the masses.
The fights are sanctioned as amateur bouts, however, that does not take anything away from witnessing an entertaining night of fighting and celebration. “There is a different energy around a women’s fight card. Not only is there a sense of community between fighters who have united for a common cause, but there is zero animosity.
“My opponent, Heika and I have been chatting on WhatsApp with each other, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re both aiming to take each other’s heads off come fight night,” says the mother of two.