The Constitution Hill Women’s Jail is a significant site of commemoration for Woman’s Month as it was once a place where ordinary women and political icons were imprisoned and encountered gross human rights violations.  The slogan for this year’s Woman’s month programme is WOMANDLA – “Commemorating the Courage & Triumph of HERstory”.

Constitution Hill, now a beacon of hope for our democracy, has in its history a painful past where many political prisoners were incarcerated for standing up for women’s rights; those imprisoned included Winnie Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Fatima Meer, Barbara Hogan, Esther Barsel, to mention but a few.  During this year’s women’s month campaign, it is the stories of these political stalwarts and ordinary citizens which will be remembered and retold as life lessons for current and future generations.

Honouring the Heroines of Our Freedom

As a nation, we owe some of the rights and liberties we enjoy today to the sacrifice of these brave heroines of our freedom.  We should never forget the price that was paid for our emancipation as a people.  Those who came before us and some of those who are still with us today put aside self and took a bold step to declare to the nation and to the world “not under my watch” and put shoulder to the shovel, offering the supreme sacrifice of personal freedom.

There is some urgency for these stories to be told. Stories of brutality, fear, intimidation, pain… and ultimately victory.  For our nation, it is important to ensure that what took over 100 years to conceive and 23 years to build is remembered and celebrated. We cannot forget the crucial lessons our past taught us.

It is important for intergenerational discourse to take place lest we forget the high price of our freedom which in many instances was brought with blood.  The struggle continues today; it may be different but it needs the same passion, anger and determination showed by stalwarts of old.

Telling #HERstory

Constitutional Hills’s programme for women’s month will be robust and engaging. We will be walking down the corridors of the past and having essential conversations about the plight of women in our present-day democracy as well as looking at the pivotal role of our constitution. It is “history” as told by the voices of women, and the programme is aptly titled #HERstory.

The activities include a Democracy Dialogue by Thuli Madonsela, two exhibition launches, one of which depicts artworks by Fatima Meer which she painted while incarcerated at the women’s jail. Activities also include a night tour and storytelling by former prisoners of the women’s jail, a long table intergenerational dinner, as well as a commemoration of Charlotte Maxeke and Adelaide Tambo.

The full #HERstory programme:

  • 17 August 2017: She Runs the Night women’s night run with performance artist Anthea Moyes
  • 17 August 2017: Women’s Jail Night Tour & Story Telling with Women’s Jail former prisoners
  • 22 August 2017: Fatima Meer exhibition
  • 22 August 2017: Intergenerational Long Table Dinner
  • 23 August 2017: POUT Magazine Launch
  • 24 August 2017: Activate Women’s Dialogue
  • 25 August 2017: Department of Basic Education Commemoration of Charlotte Maxeke & Adelaide Tambo
  • 26 August 2017: Creative Women’s Conference
  • 30 August 2017: Gentle Brothers Dinner & Conversation

For full programme details, visit www.conhill.org.za/events.